I’m looking to sell, but there are so many estate agents out there, I don’t know which to choose. Are there any recognised professional bodies that I should look out for?
The main professional body for residential estate agents is the NAEA – the National Association of Estate Agents – membership of which is by exam. The NAEA operates a strict code of conduct, runs a wide range of training courses and generally exists to champion the highest professional standards. Any member falling short of those standards can be disciplined, and in the most serious cases can even have their membership revoked.
The NAEA equivalent for the lettings sector is ARLA – the Association of Residential Letting Agents.
Both ARLA and the NAEA are incorporated under the umbrella of the National Federation of Property Professionals, or NFoPP, which also embraces similar bodies representing commercial agents, auctioneers and valuers.
Some estate agents are also chartered surveyors – for whom membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is compulsory. Some of the so-called ‘mixed practices’ choose to belong solely to the RICS, while others also belong to the NAEA and/or ARLA.
These three – the NAEA, ARLA and the RICS – are the only recognised professional bodies within the residential estate agency business. Not to be confused with them is the Guild of Professional Estate Agents, which despite its name is actually a commercial concern providing paying members with a range of products and services.
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme and its RICS equivalent, the Surveyors Ombudsman Service, are not professional bodies either. Their sole purpose is to provide the public with an independent system of arbitration and redress in the event of any unresolved dispute. All estate agents must, by law, belong to one or the other of them. Membership therefore confers no special status on a firm, and is no indication of quality or professionalism.
Of course, when it comes to choosing an estate agent no-one would claim that membership of any professional body necessarily guarantees a good service… Nevertheless, in the absence of a genuine personal recommendation from someone you know and trust, it’s not a bad place to start.
Answered by Richard Copus, Distinctive Homes Director at Woods. Richard is an Honoured Fellow of the NAEA.