Wise Howell: Estate agents and qualifications

Wise Howell: Estate agents and qualifications

© F-Stop Boy / Adobe Stock

In this month’s Wise Howell, Jeff Howell talks estate agents and qualifications

The Labour Party has said that if it wins power at the General Election, it will introduce legislation requiring estate agents to have qualifications. Well, I was amazed to hear that estate agents did not already need qualifications. 

So, for all those people who criticise the building industry for being unregulated, and for harbouring so many so-called “cowboys”, let’s have a look at the profession that encourages people to part with eye-watering sums of money, in the largest financial transaction of their lives. 

(The Labour Party’s proposal, by the way, is that anyone planning to become an estate agent would have to have at least one A-level – not exactly rocket scientists, then.) 

My neighbours have currently got their house on the market, and are having serious estate agent trouble. They have been working away for a couple of years, and had rented the house out to students. Some of their tenants – lovely young people that they were – apparently had a “studenty” thing of not liking central light fittings in their bedrooms. So they had removed the light bulbs from the ceiling fittings, and lit their rooms with festoons of fairy lights and other “mood lighting” instead. No damage done. 

Only when the estate agent comes to show some prospective buyers around the house, she goes into one of these bedrooms, flicks on the light switch and – being confronted by darkness – announces, “Ah, looks like you’ll need to get the house rewired, then”! So these buyers promptly reduce their offer price by £10,000, to allow for the mythical rewire. 

Next time the estate agent shows some buyers around, the students have all left, and the owners are present. She walks into one of the bedrooms, flicks the light switch, and – hey presto – light comes shining from the ceiling fitting. “Ah, so you’ve had the house rewired, then?” The owners showed commendable restraint by not strangling her. 

When I was recently viewing houses for myself, I looked at one that had obviously been repossessed, and the distraught owner had taken off with the boiler and most of the copper pipework, leaving only the radiators. The estate agents’ description helpfully explained, “The property benefits from wall-hung radiators which – if connected to a suitable boiler – could be used to provide central heating.” Well, thank you, Sherlock. 

Finding examples of estate agents’ howlers is so easy, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Unfair, really. But I feel if things were to improve, it would take more than asking the poor dears to manage an A-level in History or Geography. A couple of years studying construction at evening classes, or the equivalent time on a building site would be of infinitely more use, I would have thought, both to the estate agents and their clients. 


Related posts