Monday, March 10, 2008

When is a Governing Body not a Governing Body?

The Irish overseas property industry is completely unregulated then? Well not completely, but almost at the moment. If you take a look at our piece on the newly created NPSRA (and a bit of a blog on it previously) you'll have noted that there are moves afoot, intended to make the Irish property industry a whole lot safer for the consumer. Let's hope the NPSRA is successful and give it all our support to enable it to do its job properly.

On that issue, however, you may have noted that there are a number of 'associations', 'federations', 'organisations' or 'unions' to which various developers and agents are often aligned. It is, of course a perfectly pertinent question to ask, "what validity do any of them have and what exactly do they do?". Well, some of them do absolutely nothing, apart from acting as a means of promoting those in their organisations, others do perform some form of regulatory function, except with limited recourse to actions against their members. The NPSRA is the only statutory body that we are aware of to take on such a function, and that's not in full operation yet as it needs to have final laws passed to enable it to perform the functions envisaged for it.

Of the more common bodies you'll find in the overseas industry both the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants (FOPDAC, which has recently teamed up with the NAEA in the UK) and the more recently formed Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) are pretty well known and both are fairly highly rated in the industry. Both have 'vetting procedures' and 'codes of conduct' to which members are obliged to comply, otherwise they face expulsion. Unfortunately for both, this is as far as they can go, there is no means of preventing the offender from being involved in the overseas industry. Until the legal advent of the NPSRA here, there still is no body that can essentially 'shut down' a rogue agent.

Another organisation we have come across is the EEAU which doesn't seem to be held in the same esteem as the others mentioned. Apparently the organisation was thought to have disbanded a few months back but seems to have bounced back from what would normally be seen as a terminal problem.

The feedback from within the industry is that this organisation was previously known for getting information into the media that 'wasn't necessarily correct' and that it is essentially a 'for profit organisation masquerading as a trade body.' It has no vetting procedures and its website is essentially a property portal (nothing against that, we are a property portal, but we're not claiming to provide regulation within the industry). In any case, the information gleaned could hardly be considered a ringing endorsement so we wouldn't advise you to put too much faith in the EEAU badge if you do come across companies using it.

As an amusing aside, the first paragraph of the EEAU homepage claims to offer protection against "rouge estate agents", so if you know of anyone in the industry who isn't wonderful at applying make-up or uses too much foundation you might report them.

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