Advice and Opinion

Consumers have the right to ask for certification

When buying or selling a property, any person involved in the transaction has the right to ask the estate agent whether they have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter.

The public should ask, whether buyers or sellers, to see the agent’s FFC card, on which will be printed their EAAB registration number, she said.

“The Estate Agency Affairs Act says that an estate agent is not able to earn commission on the sale of a house unless they have an FFC and, you as the consumer, need to know that you are dealing with someone who has the required training and has got the professional backing to deal with such a large asset (which is probably the biggest single investment anyone will ever make in their lifetime),” said Steward. “Sales of properties can become incredibly complicated (even from the valuation stage) and it is because of the enormity of what the estate agent is handling that he has to be trained properly in how to deal with it.”

This can be compared to the fact that a builder cannot claim payments unless registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (which is stated in the Housing Consumers Protection Measure Act), she said.

“If you are building, you would check that you have a registered builder, which will ensure that you are protected from shoddy building work. Although building legislation can be perceived to be onerous, it is there to protect the consumer,” said Steward.

“You wouldn’t want just any person handling the building of your home, so should it be with the buying or selling of property.”

“These are all measures in place to protect you and to ensure you are dealing with a professional – make sure you use provisions in the law to protect you.”

In the same way, all consumers also have the right to ask any contractor, whether electrician, plumber, or gas installer, that does any work for them, for proof of his registration with the necessary bodies that represent his industry, she said.

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