TPO was proud to launch the UK's first Code of Practice for Buying Agents last year and the Code officially came into force at the beginning of this month (Jan 2014).
To celebrate this news, we hosted a special Buying Agent Q&A on Twitter. The Ombudsman Christopher Hamer hosted the live event through the @TPOmb Twitter account to highlight the Code’s enforcement to the industry and consumers alike.
The new Code is a first for the industry and reflects TPO’s ongoing commitment to recognise new and emerging market sectors.
Many thanks are owed to the TPO members who shared their insight and provided feedback during the drafting of this Code and to all those who joined us Twitter for TPO’s first Live Q&A!
Frequently asked questions:
• 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 copy of the Buying Agent Code?
You can view an online version on the Members’ Area of the TPO website by clicking here (There is a box under ‘Member Information’ called ‘Residential Buying Agents’).
Hard copies of the Code are available to order through the normal stationery order process by completing an online order form via: http://www.tpos.co.uk/downloads/TPOF11-3.5 Stationery Order Form.pdf
• 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 register with more than one Code of Practice. 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, while some members might feel it is best to register with the Sales and Buying Agent Code of Practice.
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 in 2013 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 on the Members' Area of the TPO website via http://www.tpos.co.uk/members_index.htm.
• When will the Code be implemented? 1st January 2014.
Find out more: The Code is available to view in the Members’ Area of the TPO website and you can view November’s press announcement by clicking here.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Membership team should you require any further information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.