Friday, November 19, 2010
UK estate agents v French immobiliers...a licence to thrill
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has today launched it's licensing scheme for UK estate agents.
Housing minister, Grant Shapps has called it a "symbolic moment".
It's something that has been "bubbling under" for many years and it's sure to cause controversy....you can read more about it in this article from Estate Agent today.
For sure, the UK needs to do something to generate a greater feeling of trust in the industry.
Here in France the industry has far tighter regulations and anyone interested in buying property can easily check out the agency they are dealing with.
The starting place should always be to see their carte professionnelle. This is issued by the local Prefecture and if your agent doesn't have one then don't use them (you can see my dog eared copy above, it's in a sorry state but you are supposed to carry it at all times). They're not particularly easy to get and you have to prove a complicated mixture of experience and qualifications.
To get this carte the agent also has to show that they have an up to date garantie financiere (financial guarantee) as well as assurance resposibilité civile professionnelle (PI indemnity). Further details can be found here.
It may well be that your contact is not the owner or employee of the agency but a self employed "agent commerciale". If this is the case they must still carry a "white card" attestation, completed by the owner of the original carte and signed off by the Prefecture.
They also need to have their own assurance responsibilité civile professionnelle.
All pretty straightforward really. Most international buyers are aware of these regulations and the cowboys seem to be diminishing in number (although this could have something to do with the state of the market).
It's an area that the French are ahead of the UK in (along with the compulsory information on the state of the property that is made available to the purchaser) but maybe this NAEA initiative will help improve matters.
Who knows, estate agents may soon shrug off the mantle of being the most hated advisors in the UK....leaving an open playing field for the legal profession :-)