While addressing a press conference, Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera has announced the launch of a White Paper which will lead to a legal framework that establishes a code of practice for estate agents in the execution of their work. The White Paper will assess the need for an organisation that will manage the framework, promote the profession through membership both at agency level and individual level, provide for education and training and establish a dispute redress structure. At the moment, only 12 EU Member States have regulation in this area.
The aim of the establishment of this White Paper is the need to ensure that high quality services are being rendered by professionals.
It is vital that estate agency professionals remain aware of the market and satisfy their customers. In this respect, it is now the opportune time to consider the provision of proper education and training that will lead to entry into the profession.
The introduction of the White Paper does not imply that existing agents and managers are not professional, indeed a certification for people currently working within the industry may be drawn up to recognise their experience and contribution. However, the aim of the White Paper is to improve the quality of property agents and managers, regularise the professions, which will further provide for new opportunities beyond our borders.
The White Paper proposes a licence which will be required by each professional within the real estate industry in order to be able to operate. Such license may be acquired after having undergone a relevant training course.
A Real Estate Agency is also suggested to be set-up to administer the licensing regime, keep a register of the licenses issued, prescribe training courses, develop rules of practice, set fees, set professional standards for estate agents and investigate reports of any offences.
Amongst other provisions, The White Paper also recommends that all estate agents and property consultants give their clients written terms of business including an explanation of fees and charges and any fees which may be incurred should the prospective clients withdraw their instructions. Within the terms of business it is also to be stated clearly whether the fees mentioned are fixed or calculated as a percentage on the selling price, and when such fees will become due.
The aim of this White Paper is to invite public debate on these considerations in order to draw up a proposal to establish an institutional legal framework together with a code of conduct and real estate educational programme.