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by Nick Smith Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

And we wonder why estate agent in Cardiff have a bad name

Estate agents have a terrible reputation and are one of the least favoured of professions when it comes to the general public. Seen by many as dishonest and money grabbing the industries lack of regulation has meant that many horror stories have hit the headlines.

For those of us who do a great job for clients (and we are the majority) it leaves you very frustrated when a few commit to not doing the job properly.

As an industry there are bodies that aim to set guidelines like The TPO (The Property Ombudsman). They will try to resolve disputes or problems by mediating between the pubic and an estate agent. In our experience this "service" can often feel loaded to one side and frankly without real teeth when it comes to the judgements and advice. The good ones among us will take these judgements on the chin and learn from mistakes or errors of judgement, but for the bad ones there seems to be very little redress.

One such practice we are told not to do is the unsolicited approach to an individual selling their home (junk mail directed at an individual). The guidelines on this are very clear and as members we all sign up to uphold standards. Recently I complained as I had finally grown frustrated about the sheer volume and contents of these letters that we have intercepted, that breach these very specific guidelines. The response I had surprised me somewhat and as an estate agent you can begin to forgive the bad press that we get all the time.

Firstly as an Estate Agent we are not allowed to complain about another agent/s flagrant disregard for the code of conduct we all sign up to. They went on to add that even if they could deal with my complaint that they cannot do much about it anyway as they have no real power to do anything. What a ridiculous system we have in place that allows for a total disregard for standards and a total contempt for the very people we are all meant to look towards to provide a better service to the public. What a sad state the industry is in if the very people in place to manage the industries standards feel this is acceptable and are not challenging this.

We commented on one National agency breaching this one rule seemingly nationally. The printed proof we had went a far as to use the TPO logo on the advertising that clearly breached the rules. Rather than be annoyed by this misuse of their logo and the clear breach of the codes of practice my comments were met with complete apathy which led to an internal discussion of the merits of a “if you can’t beat them join them” attitude to the whole topic.

A simple solution would be to cancel the membership of those who don’t follow the rules. This would have the desired effect of getting estate agents to raise their game, we all have to be a part of a scheme and so persistent offenders would run out of membership options very quickly if they were to introduce this type of penalty. Unfortunately it seems that the towel has been thrown in without much (if any) of a fight.

Our sector needs more regulation and more policing to ensure that standards get better and that rogue agents have no place in our great industry. We should be held accountable for our actions and we should have governing bodies that put in place standards and ensure they are met, punishing those who let down the industry and have no regard for the rules.