Q: I AM looking to place my home on the market but friends have suggested that I only use a NAEA licensed agent.

Why is this?

Mrs B, Toadsmoor.

A: Every year, unlicensed agents can cause homebuyers and sellers unnecessary stress and hassle – and sometimes loss of money – by giving incorrect or misleading advice or offering poor standards of customer service.

By using a licensed NAEA agent (National Association of Estate Agents) you are guaranteed to be consulting with a qualified and trained agent who can give you professional up-to-date advice and guidance.

It is important that you are dealing with an agent who voluntarily follows the code of Practice and Rules of Conduct lay down by their professional body, the NAEA.

A licensed NAEA agent will have Professional Indemnity Insurance (this protects you, the consumer, from financial losses incurred through negligent or misleading advice) and, should something go wrong, you will have a complaint procedure available to you.

A licensed NAEA Agent is qualified (either by formal qualification or by many years of professional body membership) and is required to keep up to date with the latest developments in the market and with the changing legislation affecting residential estate agency.

Currently there is no barrier to anyone setting up and practising as an estate agent.

Many consumers are not aware of this and so do not realise the importance of a license.

There is also no legal requirement for estate agents to obtain the new license, leaving consumers with a clear choice over whether they choose a licensed or unlicensed agent.

I personally have been a qualified member of the NAEA and ARLA for over 16 years and would like to see all sellers and buyers ask their prospective agents if they are both members and licensed.

In a difficult economic time it is important for anyone placing a property on the market to use a professional, knowledgeable agent.

All of the local NAEA and ARLA members can be found by visiting www.naea.co.uk

Please continue to send in your property related questions to clive@sawyersestateagents.co.uk