Jersey used to have one of the highest ratios of pubs per square mile in the world. Now, along with politicians per head, I am sure we have one of the highest ratios of estate agencies per square mile in the world.
This may seem odd coming from an ‘agent in the industry,’ but I am becoming more convinced that regulation of Estate Agencies in Jersey is becoming a necessity. Feedback from vendors, applicants and the agents in Broadlands is becoming more and more erratic, with values and advice being given out that not only varies wildly, but also veers on the side of irresponsible.
If you wanted legal advice, would you take it from someone who didn't have a legal qualification? If you needed a bathroom, would you have a person do it who wasn't a qualified plumber? Throughout our society we have access to businesses and people who have spent a good part of their time learning and obtaining the qualifications in order to provide a service.
Estate agents deal with not only most people’s largest asset, but also the housing process, which can be highly stressful - especially in Jersey - but more on that later. This can lead to last minute decisions to not complete the deal. How is it that we are not regulated? I understand that, technically, we are in retail and you do not need qualifications for that, however with the levels of money we deal in, surely regulation is a must.
I am not claiming that I have all the answers and I realise that steps are currently being made in Jersey to move towards regulation. However, I do have some suggestions:
Minimum Education/Training Period to be carried out by new agents before being accredited:
There has to be some kind of process involved in order to ‘qualify’ as an agent. Be it a minimum of A-Levels (or similar) with a training process and strict guidelines to understand the processes involved in the role, with an examination to prove the knowledge.
Again, this is from experience. Broadlands always make sure we have up to date, comparable sales to prove our valuation. We speak to each other and discuss the property, using each others’ knowledge to get to what we feel is the right value. If our valuation is far out compared to another agent, we tend to ask if the other agent can prove their side when we follow up.
Quick note that surveyors HAVE to provide at least 3 comparable properties for the bank after visiting a property, so why are we not required to do this at the initial sale valuation?
Governing Body to Monitor Agents:
We already have this in place with the JEAA, however it is voluntary and not all agencies on the island are registered with them. This should become mandatory, as it leads to my next point:
A Clear and Fair Complaints Procedure:
If we have a governing body, then we can have a complaints procedure that will help the public gain trust in the process and how the agencies act. No more cloak and dagger, ‘gazumping’ and anything else that can happen during the process.
It seems to me that there is regulation for everyone else involved in the sales process, apart from the Agencies. Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of good, capable agents on the island with a wealth of experience - and not just at Broadlands. However, in order to make the industry accountable, I feel these steps need to be put into place right away.