RIVERMEAD GLOBAL LEAVE THE AIPP
Over the years Rivermead Global have been staunch advocates of the Association Of International Property Professionals (AIPP), it’s inception in 2006 and it’s code of conduct was well and truly overdue in this industry.
The overseas property industry is in my opinion, a minefield and somewhere people looking to buy a property need to feel they can place 100% trust in the agent they have contacted and that agent needs to know what they are doing. After-all, they say buying a home is the most stressful thing any of us will do in our lives; well I think buying a home in a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t understand the laws and can’t jump in your car to go and see the property is even more stressful.
When the AIPP came along it promised to change the way the industry operated, it had a code of practice that all members had to abide by, and all sounded good. However, you have to be a voluntary member therefore if an agent signs up to abide by this code of conduct, they are probably already working ethically. It is the vast numbers of builders, land owners, developers, agents, advisor’s etc… that haven’t joined the AIPP that are still out there operating unethically and often damaging peoples lives.
Having sat on AIPP disciplinary boards I can speak first hand of the process and that process would work if it had more strength, they don’t have much ammunition in their arsenal if a member steps out of line or breaks the code of conduct. They can suspend, ban or force a penalty payment on the member which won’t get people their money or property back, they need to be able to take proper legal action against that member on behalf of the complainant.
We have entered the AIPP awards over the past few years and have been successful in winning multiple awards, this is because we whole heartedly believe in trying to change this industry for the benefit of the people looking to buy a property overseas. I have my concerns a minority of agents that join do so just for the AIPP badge and they think if they show this on their website/literature it will bring them business. If they do breach the code they also know not much will be done about it so take the gamble that they will join, take the AIPP badge and carry on with bad practices. I have had numerous phone calls and emails from people complaining about the AIPP and all they have done when a complaint was made was ban or suspend the member and not actually provide a solution to the issue. Until late last year I used to back the AIPP against these calls and emails, by saying “they do their best within the parameters that they have to work in and they don’t have much in the way of punishments, but are working on getting stronger”. That was until I was forced to make a complaint of my own against a fellow member who I thought was misleading the public and I had already contacted the member direct on a number of occasions to point this out.
My complaint was against Rightmove Overseas, who wear the AIPP badge on it’s website and literature. Now I have no complaint against Rightmove Overseas being members of the AIPP however, as members in my opinion must abide by the same code of conduct as other members. My complaint was they were allowing agents (who were not AIPP members) to miss advertise properties on their portal and there was no warning made that some agents and therefore their properties were being advertised/sold by non AIPP members. I contacted Rightmove Overseas on many occasions sending links to properties I knew were being miss advertised, each time I was told they would look into it and ensure the agent is warned. On each occasion nothing happened, it came to the point I even put them in touch with the developer to prove the properties were being miss-sold. This led to me having my properties switched off on Rightmove Overseas because I had complained and they were investigating, I couldn’t believe how blasé they were about the situation and the fact I was being penalised for complaining.
It was at this point I contacted the AIPP, and as a senior member, award winner and someone they call upon to sit on disciplinary boards I expected to be taken seriously, as I wouldn’t waste my valuable time on something I didn’t think was damaging the industry. I sent several emails, asked if I had to make a formal complaint and also sent copies of the email from one developer stating the agent was in fact miss-selling. Nothing, not even a reply; to say I was in shock is an understatement.
It was very close to the October 2011 A Place in The Sun exhibition so I agreed to speak to them in person and see if there was a way of resolving the issue. I even gave an idea that Rightmove Overseas make it clear to the general public who visit their portals that not all their agents/properties are covered by the AIPP. Again nothing, Professor Mark Sharp said he would come and speak to me on our stand when he wasn’t so busy, I saw him walk past many times but he didn’t come to discuss with me.
It was then I made the decision to leave the AIPP, because after all the hype and hard work put in to setting it up it wasn’t protecting the public at all and I felt angered that they weren’t doing enough to protect people or it’s members. Before we joined the AIPP we were already working far above what they expected from members and we don’t need to pay to have a badge on our website to say we abide by a code of conduct all our clients leaving glowing testimonials show this. This is not written out of any arrogance but out of frustration that just because someone has a badge on their website it is taken they act within certain rules when it isn’t true, you should earn that right not buy it.
What our industry needs is a regulatory body like the FSA and to work within the industry you HAVE to be a member, you don’t see an Independent Financial Advisor being asked if he wants to join the FSA, it is compulsory. I know this industry is slightly different and we have people from all over the world to regulate, BUT if the AIPP have voluntary members from around the world why can’t they make it compulsory to be a member. They would need to have stronger punishments and further changes to their way of working but this is the only way you will cleanse the Overseas Property Industry, as long as it is voluntary it won’t make a change.
These are my comments, if anyone wants to make their own comments please do so below, I think this is a serious issue and one that needs addressing ASAP.