Intense competition for business and the government’s plans to improve the home buying and selling process should encourage more estate agents to seek out professional qualifications, according to Sava.
The organisation, which provides surveying and valuation qualifications for the property industry, says rising industry standards and consumer expectations mean that agents increasingly need to offer a full range of professional services.
The start of government-led industry regulation
In April 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced its intention to improve the home buying and selling process to make it ‘quicker, cheaper and less stressful’.
The proposals included measures such as introducing reservation agreements, publishing ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ guides and introducing a mandatory professional qualification for sales agents.
There is currently a working group, chaired by Lord Best, considering plans for a new property industry framework, with a report back to the government due in the summer.
Austin Baggett, managing director of Sava said, “The government’s plan to introduce a mandatory qualification highlights the value and importance of professional qualifications in our industry.
“A mandatory qualification will help consumers to identify the reputable agents in their area and avoid those that aren’t offering the required level of service.
“However, more importantly, an additional industry qualification or diploma can help agents to provide a more comprehensive service, generate more income and differentiate themselves from competitors.”
Why are qualifications so valuable to estate agents?
With the government set to introduce a mandatory qualification in the future, there are already a range of options available for agents to showcase their professional qualities.
For example, Sava’s Diplomas in Residential Surveying & Valuation and Building Surveying & Housing Management, provide direct entry into the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Baggett added, “An industry qualification or diploma will help agents to become more knowledgeable on key topics such as buildings and valuations, which will allow them to provide more in-depth advice to their customers.
“This allows them to offer a more rounded service to their clients and increases their opportunity to generate revenue from selling additional products. For instance, sellers are generally also buyers, and the estate agent could then go on to provide a home buyer condition report on properties the seller is looking purchase.
“It’s important for a modern agent to be seen as a property expert with a diverse range of skills -supplementary qualifications can help them to achieve this.
“If you’re providing advice to sellers and buyers, having detailed knowledge of how buildings are constructed, how they can fail, how they can be improved and how the lender is going to assess the value of the property are all essential things which are going to be useful for consumers. This allows agents to really differentiate themselves.”
Consumer expectations set to rise further
Sava says that as the government works to regulate and professionalise the property industry, consumer expectations will rise in line with higher standards.
Baggett said, “There may soon be a tipping point where consumers are looking for the agencies which offer the highest levels of products and customer service. This means simply having a mandatory government qualification might not be enough for your brand to stand out.
“On top of this, agents know that due to fee erosion and legislation such as the tenant fee ban, they increasingly need to diversify their offerings and provide services such as surveying and professional valuations which can help them to replace lost revenue.
“That’s why a third of the people taking our level 6 diploma, which is equivalent to a degree, come from an estate agency background and are looking to bolster the professional services they already offer.”