And, ahead of talks it hopes to hold with the government, it has highlighted a lack of safeguards in Jersey for consumers dealing with what was likely to be ‘everyone’s biggest investment’.
‘We have 50 estate agents in Jersey, including three starting in the last three weeks, and there are no entry requirements – you could start tomorrow with no experience whatsoever,’ said Nick Dodsley, founder of ND Estates and vice-president of the JEAA which represents 14 of the 50 firms active in the Island.
Currently, estate agents are regulated in Scotland and Wales, and legislation now appears likely to be introduced in England to introduce minimum professional standards but there is no requirement in Jersey for estate agents to hold any professional qualifications, nor to belong to a representative body.
Mr Dodsley’s comments were echoed by fellow JEAA committee member and a previous president, Shelagh Marett, who pointed out that there is also no requirement in Jersey for estate agents who are not members of the association to belong to a redress scheme that allows any disputes to be resolved independently. Under the Estate Agents (Redress Scheme) Order 2008, all UK estate agents must be members of such a scheme.
‘We are saying that all agents should be licensed. We would like to see that happen and in the days ahead we will be contacting the government because regulation will happen in the future in the UK requiring the profession to be licensed. We would like to follow suit,’ Mrs Marett said.
RoPA, or the Regulation of Property Agents, has cross-party Parliamentary support at Westminster and, when adopted, will require all those working for estate agents to have appropriate qualifications. Front-facing staff will be required to have a minimum level-3 qualification, the equivalent of an A-level.
The JEAA has been in discussion with Propertymark, a professional body established in 2017 to combine five associations representing estate agents into a single brand, about developing a Jersey module for its professional qualifications which are otherwise based on practice in the UK.
While the existing syllabus is relevant to local practitioners, Mr Dodsley said that it was their wish that an element specific to Jersey could be included in the future.
Currently, the JEAA is encouraging its members to obtain these qualifications and another of the association’s board members Samantha Leighton, property negotiator at Wilsons Knight Frank, recently completed her level-3 qualification.
Like Mr Dodsley, she is currently working to join Mrs Marett at level-4.
‘Coming into the industry, I’m passionate about it and I feel that it’s important for clients and consumers to be able to trust the experts, so doing the exams, though I do have two years’ experience, gives me the confidence to know that I’m giving my clients the best advice.
‘It is only going to improve standards for everyone involved in the industry to make it as smooth as possible. It will benefit everyone,’ she said.
Mr Dodsley, previously a conveyancer for a local law firm, established his business in 2009. ‘I felt it necessary that we became members of Propertymark and the JEAA, and as part of becoming a member of Propertymark, you are required to obtain your qualifications.
‘I could have said, with 30 years’ experience, why do I have to qualify but actually I’ve gone out and done it,’ he said.