The review follows up on the Residential Property Transactions Review Panel (2018) report which recommended that the Chief Minister should introduce a means requiring all Jersey estate agents to be members of an approved professional body and to adhere to a code of conduct.
Estate agent regulation
In an unregulated market, we would have concerns about agents’ level of knowledge about the properties they are marketing. This point is made with specific reference to the legal requirement to ensure potential buyers have any material information within their knowledge that would affect the transactional decision of the average consumer.
The absence of a regulatory framework that requires agents to be a member of a professional body and adhere to a code of practice leaves consumers vulnerable to bad practice and questionable standards. It means there is no consistent, transparent route to redress for consumers when things go wrong and agents are not held to account against the same standards. Regulation would level the playing field and encourage a more joined-up approach.
Monitoring compliance with a statutory code of practice requires regulatory oversight which is why estate agents in Jersey should, in the first instance, be legally required to attain professional membership before being permitted to practice.
Training and qualifications
Requiring all practicing agents to have appropriate training, be sufficiently qualified, and commit to continued professional development to practice is important because buying and selling property are complicated tasks governed by complex areas of law. Without regular training and continued professional development, the sector and consumers will not reap the benefits of regulation.
To help ensure greater levels of consistency and a joined-up approach in an industry with multi-disciplinary firms, the Jersey Government must widen the scope of regulation to include both letting agents and block management agents. Ensuring that the whole housing market is under the same regulatory umbrella will reduce confusion, inconsistency, and cases of where services fall between different regulatory regimes.
Regulation must be combined with adequately resourced enforcement agencies that are not wasting their limited resources on administrative licensing schemes.