Jun 032012
 

The RICS is recently reported as saying “We will work with other bodies to establish, by 2015, a single industry-wide regulation and independent redress scheme for the whole sector.”

Well in that case, we’d like the Property Match organisation to be part of the process and be included in the formative discussions for establishing a single industry-wide regulation and independent redress scheme for the whole sector.
WHY? Because as well as trying to get a so-called industry-wide redress scheme going, certain organisations representing estate agents are simultaneously lobbying the Government to prescribe that all house marketing must be done through accredited estate agents!

Aside from this very serious and dangerous proposal (which is largely being conducted under the table) my concern is that if an improved method of marketing houses is not put into place before the economy starts lifting itself from its recessionary phase, it will take the housing market a lot longer to re-set itself and get turnover increasing again.

The time-lag involved will be a further unwanted damper, slowing the recovery of our economy and as a nation, we really don’t need that right now!

It was commented on EstateAgentToday recently:

http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/news_features/House-buyers-lose-interest-says-Hometrack

“Ask 1000 ‘clients’ what their ‘best interests’ are. My prediction would be that somewhere in the region of 995 of them will state something along the lines of - get me the best price for my property”.

We disagree profoundly. Instead we believe most house-owners wishing to move this year would say to estate agents: -

“Actually, I want you to market my property to best advantage so that I can sell it at a realistic price within a timeframe of a maximum of three months.”

“I also want you to put me in touch with some equally efficient estate agents in the area in which I want to buy, who will show me a selection of properties that will: -

a) Meet my accommodation and location requirements.
b) Be in-line, price-wise with what you are obtaining for the house I am selling (in terms of what I am getting for my money), other than allowing for nationally established price differences in respect of my new location, versus my old one.”

“If you can do these things, I would be happy to accept an evidence-based and hence able to be vetted, Market Appraisal from you and to base my initial asking price on this.”
“I will do this in an effort to achieve a swift and successful move (by using a chain of similar sales, if necessary) so that I don’t find I have overpaid for the house I wish to buy, in comparison with the one I first wish to sell.”

I would then appoint you to act for me as my agent in representing my best interests in all of these matters simultaneously - and NOT just try and get the best possible price on my sale property alone; no matter how long that could take!”

Therefore, a new ‘Independent’ watchdog with considerable powers to enforce sanctions against estate agencies across the UK that fail to provide an acceptable service to house owners is required and not just an independent redress scheme as is apparently being proposed by RICS.

A proper new watchdog would transform the way the UK housing market operates. This is urgently needed to be put in place before the current down-turn in our nation’s economy ends.

Instead of:
Leaving estate agents to keep over-testing the market and causing buyer apathy …

Instead of:
Suggesting banks should lend more to first-time buyers and others desperately trying to move …

Instead of:
Trying to build more and more houses to try and increase their supply, we should better use the ones we have already got, using unoccupied property to better advantage and helping people to move from house to house more effectively.  This would be a faster-acting policy than simply trying to build more new houses in any event.

As well as:
Having a Government approved Property Ombudsman to establish enhanced Codes of Practice to better process claims of mis-selling and other such impropriety, there needs to be an ‘Independent’ watchdog with powers to impose harsher sanctions against any estate agent found misrepresenting a client’s property interests.

The new watchdog would need to have added powers beyond those available at present which are contained in the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

HOW such a body could formed and administered is, of course, open to question.
Our educational establishments have something very like this in the form of OFSTEAD.

Estate agency clearly needs something very similar to that and just as comprehensive, in terms of its powers.

Instead of:
Estate agents competing to win new instructions for themselves (as at present), they should need to correctly advise their clients on how best to sell each particular property - within an agreed timescale.
That would have to include doing properly researched and realistic market appraisals from which each asking price would be derived and which would require to be in writing and include all relevant comparison calculations.
Prospective buyers should also have the right to see this information upon request.

Instead of:
Estate agents competing against each other (as at present), they would need to work more as a team, helping those wishing to move from one place to another by freely referring enquiries from a vendor’s agent to fellow agents selling other client’s houses in the buyer’s search area (and using equally well researched market appraisals).

The result would be, better price parity between various locations (and across different estate agencies), allowing more people to move from one area to another and getting the nation’s labour force better accommodated and more mobile than ever before.

At present, moving by using chains of sales, has become virtually impossible because of an existing lack of the required cross-agency facilities.
At present, carefully crafted checks and balances need to be implemented to get the housing market, which is vital for the growth of our economy, properly functional once again.

As far as house prices are concerned:
At the right (or market) price, sellers can always sell and buyers can always buy.
Therefore, all that is required to get the UK housing market moving again, is to find a reliable method for measuring the right price for each property to be marketed - and that shouldn’t involve buyers necessarily having to try and raise ever bigger deposits and larger mortgages.

Further information about this may be seen on our web site.  Property Match (UK) is planned to run alongside estate agency services, mainly in case they fail to provide sufficient or adequate improvements to the services currently offer by them.

For this please see: Asking Prices: More info on finding correct asking prices.

In other words, based on past performance, Property Match (UK) Is definitely going to be required to compete with outdated and badly run estate agencies.

Posted by: Property Match (UK): Press Release: Peter Hendry, Consultant in Housing Valuation