I’m pleased to confirm that with effect from 1st January 2014, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is launching a new Code of Practice for Buying Agents.
We’ve listened to member feedback and recognised that buying agents are a growing market sector in its own right which required its own Code of Practice.
The new Code will be a first for the industry and reflects our ongoing commitment to recognise new and emerging market sectors.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the TPO members who shared their insight and provided feedback during the drafting of this Code - their input was essential and deeply valued by the TPO Council.
I have provided some further information below in the form of a Q&A to assist with any questions you may have ahead of the new Code’s implementation.
Gerry Fitzjohn, Vice Chairman, The Property Ombudsman
What do we mean by ‘buying agent’?
Buying agents are those agents who receive instructions from buyers to act in their interests in the search for property and negotiation of the purchase price.
Why has TPO launched a separate Code for Buying Agents?
We recognised that buying agents are growing market sector in its own right which required its own Code of Practice.
The new Code will create a uniform set of standards for buying agents based in the UK to protect the interests of consumers and to promote best practice in the industry.
Both sales agents and buying agents are subject to the same property and consumer protection laws, and with that in mind we firmly believe that consumers on both sides of a property transaction deserve the same levels of protection outlined in The Estate Agents Act 1979, and should be able to use a redress service to resolve disputes if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
Who will it apply to?
Buying agents based in the UK.
How can I get a printed copy of the Buying Agent Code?
You can download a copy here.
Hard copies of the Code are available to order through the normal stationery order process and completing an order form here.
Will all existing Buying Agents registered with TPO have to move from following the Sales Code to following the Buying Agent Code?
We recognise that while there are many stand-alone buying agents, there are also a great number of sales agents that provide a buying agent service meaning they might need to follow more than one Code of Practice moving forward.
There is no cost implication for any agent that wishes to follow more than one Code of Practice as membership covers any of the following applicable to your business: residential sales (including buying agents), international sales, residential lettings, commercial sales and lettings and chattel auctions. Therefore the cost of membership will remain the same. Firms that purely provide a Buying Agent service now have a Code of Practice that is tailored to their area of work. With that in mind, we urge every firm to review the new Buying Agent Code of Practice so they can make an informed decision as to what Code(s) best reflect their service offering.
What happens if I’m a Buying Agent that moves from following the Sales Code, to following the Buying Agent Code of Practice?
Your membership terms and fees will remain exactly the same and you can continue to use the TPO logo for marketing purposes as per the existing usage guidance.
However, only agents signed up to the Sales Code of Practice can use the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) logo in their marketing as this is the first TPO Code of Practice to be approved by TSI’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme.
The Scheme was launched earlier this year to replace the Office of Fair Trading scheme and we’re in ongoing discussions with TSI regarding the accreditation of other Codes in the future. Further information and guidance on TPO’s TSI approval and logo usage can be found here.
When will the Code be implemented?
1st January 2014.