Meet the agency that sees opportunity in change
This Essex-based agency is using the time it has while remote working to self-regulate and gain industry qualifications - before regulation of the profession becomes mandatory.
“I'm looking forward to remote working. I'll be able to communicate with my landlords and tenants, and they don't need to come to the office to sign contracts. I think it's the way forward,” says Darshan Sunger, Managing Director of Essex-based letting agency Three Oaks.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still ongoing and forcing businesses to adapt their approach; all non-essential premises, including agencies, are now expected to close. While Sunger recognises that “change is a frightening word for everybody”, he sees remote working as “the way things are moving”, even in lettings.
In adapting to this new approach, agents can use the time working from home to plan ahead, and Three Oaks is looking to the regulatory changes on the horizon. “I always try to keep up to speed with what's happening in our industry. It’s evolving very fast, and there's new legislation coming out every single day,” says Sunger.
As a licensed ARLA PropertyMark Agent and ARLA PropertyMark Representative for the Essex region, with 21 years experience in the lettings industry, Sunger is well placed to offer guidance. He highlights the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA) to the government to professionalise the industry. He explains that agents will need a level three qualification and directors are recommended to take a level four qualification. If they don’t qualify, they “won’t be able to give advice over the phone or through emails or letters.”
These are online qualifications - an ideal remote-working project for agents who want to get ahead. Sunger has already stepped up his game before the qualifications become mandatory. “I took it upon myself to go out there and get the level three qualification. I'm now halfway through doing my level four,” he says.
Three Oaks made the active decision to meet these standards, despite having no set date for when they will be officially introduced. “We're self-regulated agents because we choose to be - because we want to make sure people get the very best advice and service from us,” says Sunger.
However, Sunger predicts that not all agents will want to commit to the two or three years required to qualify. “Some agents have a vast amount of experience, but they don't want to go back to school. So they'll end up selling their business or leaving the industry.”
This will open the door to the younger generation to move into the gap. “They can work and learn at the same time, and, if they work hard, they can gain a qualification for life.”