By Mark Willey, Terence Willey & Co

The home buying and selling process is undoubtedly one of the most stressful transactions any of us will have to go through.

A working party called the Home Buying and Selling Group made up of cross-sector representatives is actively campaigning for the Government to consider changes to the home buying and selling process in this country which I’m sure many industry professionals as well as consumers would like to see simplified and speeded up.

One such area which has been on the agenda for a long time is the Regulation of Property Agents (ROPA). The ROPA working group, made up of industry and consumer experts, has examined the options available for raising standards across the property agent sector.

The working group has made recommendations on:

a model for an independent property-agent regulator, including how it will operate and how it will enforce compliance

a single, mandatory and legally-enforceable Code of Practice for property agents

a system of minimum entry requirements and continuing professional development for property agents

clarifying processes and charges for leaseholders

Some of the scope of a new system of regulation will include:

New licensing regime: to confirm appropriate qualifications and credentials, property agencies and qualifying agents will be required to hold and display a licence to practise from the new regulator. Before granting a licence, the new regulator will check that an agent has fulfilled its legal responsibility and passed a fit-and-proper person test.

Framework for codes of practice to set out clear standards of behaviour

Mandatory qualifications; to provide agents with the skills they need, and provide a mark of competence to reassure consumers.

Assurance and enforcement under the new system. The recommendation is that these options should range from agreeing remedial actions and issuing warnings up to the revocation of licences and prosecutions for unlicensed practice.

The general consensus is that ROPA is a much welcomed introduction into the property sector by the industry experts, the main drive of which is coming from property agents themselves.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing (initially due to Brexit and more recently the global pandemic) ROPA has been pushed back down the political agenda and it is not known when such measures are likely to be implemented.

If the regulation of property agent industry can bring forth some of the benefits as mentioned above then it is believed that in turn, the home buying and selling process will be, and can developed to be, a much better experience overall for the consumer.