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Most of UK property industry supports registration for real estate agents

Bill McClintock, chairman of the board that operates the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme, said that the reaction has been encouraging, with support from across the industry.

'It started with many of the principal London agencies backing the idea and has spread countrywide. For the industry to be seen to be fair, it has to raise the professional standards of those who are involved at the real sharp end of residential property sales and lettings negotiation. Registration is an excellent first step to do this,' he said.

One of the familiar jibes aimed at estate agents is that anyone can set up an agency branch. McClintock wants those who have been estate agents for some time to demonstrate that they have attained the necessary standards to practice. He reckons it will make the industry more professional and sort out the good from the bad.

'The hard times the industry has been suffering have seen firms go to the wall with many good agents losing their jobs. Hopefully, as business revives they will come back to be valued members of the profession, for that is how I want estate agents to be seen,' he explained.

'Others who have fallen because, frankly, they were not good enough to stay in business in tough markets will find it hard to return unless they are fit to be here. We no longer want to inexperienced and unprofessional individuals who can give the industry a bad name. We want an industry that can prove its worth and serve the public with integrity,' he added.

He is now arranging a meeting at the head office of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents in Park Lane and will be inviting representatives of NFOPP, embracing NAEA and ARLA, RICS, NALS, OEA, Which?, and individual estate agencies to form an inclusive steering group to take the proposal forward.

'Keeping up the momentum is vital. Already, in just a few weeks since I first floated the registration idea, companies representing probably half the estate agency branches in the UK have committed to the scheme in principle, which would cover all individuals negotiating residential sales, lettings, and property valuations,' he said.

'It's a tremendous opportunity to set up a new system that will protect both consumers and estate agencies and ensure that proper standards are provided in an industry frequently dealing with consumers' highest value assets,' he added.