Today’s columnist, Bob Brown: Finding a reputable estate agent

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Reputable and estate agent are not often words used in the same sentence.

It can be notoriously difficult to discover whether or not you are using an estate agent with a poor reputation but there are some useful hints that can help you minimise your risk.

Searching online to see if there is any bad press is a great way to start. Another is to check the agent’s professional affiliations.

Estate and letting agents currently do not need to be qualified to practise.

But there are bodies such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) and Safe Agent, which provide certification to confirm the qualifications of their members.

All estate agents have to comply with the Estate Agent Act 1979 and be registered with an approved Ombudsman scheme.

These schemes provide a form of independent redress should a consumer have an unresolved complaint.

Most complaints relate to failings in administration, although some sellers complain when they believe that offers on a property have not been put to them.

It’s for this reason that the Property Ombudsman Scheme sets out approved Codes of Practice that their members should adhere to.

For example, it stipulates that any offer made on a property should be put to a seller on every case within a reasonable period of time, normally deemed to be two working days.

I’m a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme. Details of the Ombudsman service can be found here: www.tpos.co.uk

You can also use this site to search members and make sure that the estate agent that you’re choosing is currently part of the ombudsman service.

Alternative ombudsman schemes include: www.ombudsman-services.org and www.theprs.co.uk

The final tip to satisfy yourself about the credibility of an Estate Agent is to see if they’ve won any recent industry awards.

Everybody will say that they’re the best, but do they have independent industry acknowledgement as proof?

Look for nationally recognised industry awards.

There are more than 20,000 sales and letting agents in the UK and national awards allow the cream to rise to the top.