It is no surprise that plans requiring estate agents to hold professional qualifications in future have gone down well with the National Association of Estate Agents.
Sam Dumitrui, head of projects at think tank the Adam Smith Institute, made the claim.
He said: “Incumbents usually support closed shops.”
He was answering a question posed by CityAM: “Will requiring estate agents to hold professional qualifications improve the property market?”
Dumitrui’s reply was a firm ‘no’.
He said that in the US, some States require licences of manicurists and florists. All that happens is that it pushes wages up by 15% – making staff expensive.
If there were fewer estate agents, there would be less competition and this would hike fees charged to the public.
Nor, he argued, is there much evidence that licensing improves standards: “Restricting competition never delivers higher standards,” he said.
In the ‘yes’ corner is Becky Fatemi, of London agents Rokstone.
She said that rogue agents are small in number but give the industry a bad name.
“It is wrong that someone with no professional qualifications can currently set up an estate agency practice in the UK. You can be a Deliveroo driver one day and an estate agent the next.”
She said that a professional qualification will encourage talented new people to enter the industry.
It is inevitably going to be an argument that rumbles on – in much the same way, we suspect, that the Government’s proposal will rumble on through various committees, consultations, and undoubtedly more housing ministers, before getting anywhere near the statute books.