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Estate agents and the IPI
Only estate agents who are members of the IPI/BIV may trade as self-employed estate agents: they are responsible for the sale, letting and management of your property.
Why use an estate agent?
The purchase, sale, letting, etc., of a property are transactions that are not usually undertaken lightly, property being for most of us the largest thing we possess.
An estate agent is a professional whose role is to carry out these transactions in your best interests. Thus he can:
- prepare a complete file on the planned transaction that includes all the documentation needed for its completion (mortgage extract, land registry searches, etc.);
- assist you in valuing your property;
- have in place the infrastructure and communications resources enabling your project to be completed not only more efficiently but also more rapidly;
- advise you on the opportunity to carry out such and such a property transaction;
As a result, you will definitely gain time and availability.
Who can be an estate agent?
Since 1993, it has no longer been possible for absolutely anyone to trade as an estate agent.
This is because, under the royal decree of 6 September 1993 "protecting the professional title and exercise of the profession of estate agent", any person trading as an estate agent must first be a member of the IPI/BIV.
What activities are reserved for an estate agent?
An estate agent is self-employed and carries out for third parties:
- intermediary activities aimed at selling, buying, exchanging, letting or assigning properties, property rights or businesses;
- property administration activities involving:
- either the management of properties or property rights;
- or the duties of managing agent.
An estate agent is always a physical person (an agency or company is not authorised as such). But an estate agent can of course trade through an agency or company.
The protected activities are exclusively those carried out for third parties: this is because an estate agent is an intermediary. This means that people who manage their own property or carry out the above-mentioned activities for their own account are not subject to the regulations. Thus owners, property promoters, etc., that are not property intermediaries do not have to be members of the IPI/BIV.
How do you become a member of the IPI/BIV?
Membership is obtained by complying with the strict diploma conditions (a minimum of three years' post-secondary studying - property, accountancy, law, economics, etc. - see the list of diplomas mentioned in article 5 of the royal decree of 6 September 1993) and/or professional experience acquired as an estate agent (see article 17 ¤¤ 7 & 8 of the framework law of 1 March 1976). A placement of at least one year must also be fulfilled.
An estate agent is obliged to comply with the rules of professional ethics (code of professional ethics approved by the royal decree of 28 September 2000).
Three particular obligations stand out from these rules:
- to have professional civil liability insurance covering errors made in exercising the profession;
- to obtain financial security covering money and valuables held for third parties;
- to undergo continuing professional training.
The IPI/BIV sees that estate agents comply with all these obligations and may impose sanctions in the event of breaches (warning, reprimand, temporary suspension or striking off).
The IPI/BIV may act of its own accord or following a complaint (usually written).