More and more people are looking at setting up as buying agents and for good reason. A canny buying agent can earn £125k+ a year and gets to help people find their dream homes. Getting going can be complicated and a little daunting at times but whether you want the flexibility of being self-employed or the buzz of doing the deals there are certainly less interesting jobs in property. Some traditional selling agents want to expand their businesses and are looking to bolt on a buying service.
If you want help with regulation & compliance, marketing, websites & PR then please get in touch. I’m helping more and more people, some ex-sales agents, some with little property experience but keen to enter the business. Some want encouragement, some want a push to get going. Some want clients on an ongoing basis and a very few want to link up to build a bigger business.
If you might be interested in a chat about your plans, my plans and what we might be able to do together then please get in touch.
There is some background information I wrote a while ago about what you need to sign up to if you are trading as a buying agent.
Question, “Can anybody be an agent?”
Answer, “pretty much, yes” but there are one or two rules (laws) that those involved in buying, selling and letting property must observe.
Firstly, the basics;- letting agents are NOT estate agents so laws for ‘agents’ need to be inspected carefully. The 1979 Estate Agent Act defines who is an estate agent . It states;
..things done by any person in the course of a business (including a business in which he is employed) pursuant to instructions received from another person (in this section referred to as “the client”) who wishes to dispose of or acquire an interest in land—
(a)for the purpose of, or with a view to, effecting the introduction to the client of a third person who wishes to acquire or, as the case may be, dispose of such an interest; and
(b)after such an introduction has been effected in the course of that business, for the purpose of securing the disposal or, as the case may be, the acquisition of that interest;
Letting agents (in my experience are often better qualified), have more red tape to negotiate but they are not governed by law. Anyone, even a banned estate agent can set up as a letting agent.
Trading Standards take the lead in dealing with complaints against estate and letting agents. Some time ago the Property Mis-descriptions Act was repealed and agents now operate under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 & Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008. General guidance for agents on how they must comply can be found here.
So, just what must an agent sign up to?
The snappily titled Consumer & Estate Agent Redress Act requires all agents (as defined by the 1979 Act above) to sign up to a redress code. Confusingly there are now two;-
Members of RICS and the National Approved Lettings Scheme used to use the Surveyors Ombudsman Service however most estate agents including members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) & at the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) are all signed up to The Property Ombudsman (TPO). The alternative is The Property Redress Scheme.
It is important to point out to consumers that these are redress schemes – for when things have gone wrong, when the stable is empty, door banging in the breeze and the horse is in a lasagne. Although an Ombudsman can fine an agent and he can expel an agent from his scheme he cannot refuse to register them (that might be seen as a breach of their human rights – preventing them from earning a living!)
Estate agents are legally obliged to sign up to the OFT’s Anti-Money Laundering register run by HMRC. Letting agents at present are not required to.
All sales, letting and buying agents are required by law to sign up to the Information Commissioners Data Protection Register. Check your entry here.
Although not mandatory if you want to make life easier especially in central London then signing up to Lonres is a great idea and their ResCheck service is extremely helpful.
When you have signed up display them on your website. That way people know they are dealing with a legitimate business. These are mine and I include them on emails and every page of my website.