A Personal Perspective
When I started this agency, ND Estates, in 2009, I did so in the knowledge that, at that time I had nearly 30 years conveyancing knowledge, having worked for a number of the larger legal offices in Jersey and also having dealt with numerous property transactions from HNW properties to large commercial transactions and drafted many contracts and Declarations of Co-Ownership, together with (albeit to a lesser extent) involvement in Share Transfer sales. So, I considered that I had a broad range of Jersey property experience, together with a significant amount of transactional experience.
My twelve years in this industry, in addition to the previous 28 in Jersey conveyancing, have led me to believe that Regulation of Jersey Estate Agents is probably needed.
This has been in part as a result by our business dealings with some other agents who are not members of the JEAA or Propertymark, in some cases where there is evidence of a lack of training or knowledge of a property transaction, particularly by those new to the industry.
There is also strong anecdotal evidence from our own customers of the practices of the newer agents which appear to directly contravene JEAA and Propertymark standards, some actions which would appear to breach the Estate Agents Act if they were conducted in the UK and which probably fly in the face of the Code of Conduct issued by the Property Ombudsman.
Estate Agent Act for Jersey?
Jersey has, to my knowledge, no Estate Agents Act.
It would appear to the layman to be relatively simple, perhaps, for the legislature to replicate (with a few amendments for the intricacies of Jersey property law) and implement the 1979 Act and the 1991 orders as a Jersey Regulation of Estate Agents (202?) Law. In my view, Jersey needs one for reputational reasons. It remains to be seen whether, following the recent review of the Estate Agents by the government to ascertain whether regulation is needed, as to whether Government will see this as necessary or desirable.
Jersey has one of the most expensive property markets on all levels, from First Time Buyer to High Net Worth Properties (HNW) and yet has no forthright legislation in this area other than Consumer Protection Regulation introduced in 2018.
The very least could be a requirement for all agents to be members of an association such as the JEAA and NAEA and to undertake the Level 2 or 3 Propertymark examinations, within, say, 3 years of becoming a member of the JEAA/NAEA as well as an obligation to be a member of a redress scheme such as the Property Ombudsman. Currently, member agents of the JEAA and those of NAEA Propertymark comply with the Property Ombudsman code voluntarily.
Our Business Going Forward
As a business, we have a requirement that all members of our staff that are client-facing dealing in sales and lettings should register with Propertymark Qualifications and undertake the relevant exams and have accordingly registered and studies commenced.