Sweeping Changes for the Property Industry

There are around 20,000 estate agency businesses across the country and, as the law currently stands, anyone can practise as an estate agent without any qualifications or previous experience. New government standards designed to make the home-buying process easier will also introduce mandatory professional qualifications to ensure a more trustworthy industry, in line with other associated industries such as conveyancers, solicitors and surveyors.

We ask Louisa Ryan MNAEA, who has just completed diploma courses in both sales and lettings in a three-year graduate apprenticeship position with Harrison James & Hardie, how the requirement to study towards professional qualifications will change the industry.

“Ensuring that everyone is qualified will send shockwaves through the vast majority of companies, as very few agencies, insist on professional credentials. It will do a great deal of good longer term but such high standards have always been a fundamental part of our company ethos. When Karen Harrison and James von Speyr launched their own estate agency twenty years ago, their stated commitment was to provide a consistently superlative standard of service for all clients and customers and, as such, all employees have always been required to qualify as members of the National Association of Estate Agents and/or the Association of Residential Lettings Agents.

I was in retail management when I applied for an apprenticeship position, but this is usually offered post ‘A’ level or after university. Daily ongoing training from senior colleagues is supported with external academic supervision by Gold Standard. We are expected to pass NVQs and gain a diploma in sales or lettings within two years, then encouraged to extend our knowledge and qualifications. I went on to do an ARLA course, having gained my MNAEA, and have just completed my final exam, so I am now qualified to the highest industry standard in both lettings and sales.

Organised around our day to day, and supervised on a 1:1 basis for a couple of hours every four weeks, we begin with coursework and then formal study towards four exams. Sometimes, yes, it’s hard to maintain focus with a very demanding day job and you do end up taking work home, but with time allocated specifically for study in the weeks running up to each exam, it’s manageable. Working around your studies helps to put what you are learning into practice and enables you to think about the legislation that goes with it. It also means that the advice you are giving is accurate and well-informed – if, for example, an issue arises with a sale as a result of a structural survey which then turns into a difficult negotiation, a client can trust what you say is both compliant and reliable.

I am very proud to have letters after my name. Such qualifications are the best outward signal to clients and customers, when deciding which agency to appoint and who is the best agent to find their perfect home, that they have found a trustworthy professional individual in a reputable business, someone able to meet their needs and often to surpass their expectations. And every single employee at Harrison James & Hardie is qualified, so we offer an outstanding level of service.

Having worked alongside wonderful senior colleagues like Martin, Karen and James, who have been operating in the North Cotswolds for decades, benefitting directly from their longevity and huge wealth of local knowledge, simultaneously taking on an apprenticeship, I have been able to accelerate and cement my understanding, certify my competency and experience in the industry, stand out amongst competitors and, most importantly, uphold the Company’s deserved reputation as the best agency in the North Cotswolds marketplace.”

Louisa Ryan, MNAEA MARLA is Senior Sales Negotiator at the Moreton in Marsh offices of Harrison James & Hardie. To contact Louisa please telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail louisa@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.