Why I think the real estate industry in the Canary Islands should be regulated

Should the real estate industry in the Canary Islands should be regulated?

I’m concerned about the Real Estate industry here in Tenerife and when I say concerned, I’m really concerned.

I’m not worried about the market itself, that’s doing well at the moment – what worries me are some of the agents and some of the people within the industry.

As the property market eases and the crisis seems to be less of a concern, there are more and more estate agency offices popping up all over the place. I’ve only got to pop into Los Cristianos or some other town that I haven’t been to for a while and see shiny new offices with their white leather chairs and glass topped desks all over the place.

New estate agents popping up every couple of weeks

It really doesn’t cost much to open an office and start selling property, what does take time though, is the trust and reputation that is built around agents and their businesses throughout the years of trading and the experience gained through that process.

The fact that it doesn’t take much to open an estate agency office is the reason that there are so many popping up but with this comes a higher risk to buyers and sellers and also a possible problem of undeclared income and unpaid taxes.

In the UK there is some sort of regulation with the NAEA, it’s a voluntary association that self regulates the industry. In the Spanish mainland there are exams and registrations to go through to join the professional college and then the agents are regulated, in the Canary Islands on the other hand, there is nothing.

I for one, although I’m certain that I’m not the only one, would like to see exams for agents and office owners and from there, regulation with regard to transactions that take place. This exam would be written in Spanish and office and company owners should take an exam to allow them to run an office and there should be a separate exam for agents that want to work in those offices.

It’s a bit like they have in the United States with offices run by Brokers and agents working in those offices.

Exams for agents

The exam doesn’t have to be really hard and doesn’t mean that there has to be months of studying for it either, nor does it have to be expensive but once completed, the relevant agent would receive their registration number for the duration that they wanted to work in the industry and then they’d be able to trade within an office of their choice and if in time they wanted to open their own office, then they’d eventually take the office or company owners exam.

If the exam idea was taken up, then each person that passed the exam would need to declare their number and the office owner’s number at any notary signing and it would be recorded on the deeds for the property transaction that they were dealing with. This would enable anyone that had problems or concerns after that transaction had completed, to be able to trace the paperwork back to the selling agent’s office.

There are just too many new offices opening with inexperienced people running them, hanging on the coattails of those agents that successfully made it through the tough years of the crisis and out through the other side and now those inexperienced agents make mistakes or carry out poor work thus adding more fuel to the fire of untrustworthy estate agents in Tenerife.

The fact is, with so little regulation that anyone can sell property here which means that it’s open to a lot of abuse, at times there are no taxes paid which could also mean that buyers and sellers are put at risk because possibly their property sales or purchase taxes are not being paid.

A few weeks ago I was asked to show one of our properties to another “agent” who showed up still smelling of the previous night’s alcohol. We showed the property to the potential buyers who afterwards told their agent that apart from being on the complex they were actually interested in, the apartment was hardly close to the property they were looking for as it had only 1 bedroom and they were looking for 2.

Estate agent’s professionalism…

When it comes to professionalism here in Tenerife estate agents probably have one of the worst records. By having registration of offices and agents, I feel that the whole industry would be better for it, the buyers and sellers would be protected better and we as an industry would be looked at in an improved light.

This could lead to better things in the future, maybe with sellers then being happy to sign exclusivity agreements and there could then be fairer competition amongst agencies rather than the scrabbling around and underhand ways some agents go through to find properties for sale or buyers to buy them.

If this all did come to pass, I’m sure there will be ways for people to circumvent the rules but it would at least reduce the number of people out there that are putting buyers and sellers at risk.

Just sayin’

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