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REAL ESTATE

Why buyers fear real estate agencies

When we deal with real estate we are dealing with objects of great value which cannot be compared to any other business. In our market, owning a house is a goal that the average citizen works towards for often his whole life. Selling property is just not as simple as selling potatoes. It is absurd, therefore, that the sale of potatoes is more carefully regulated than the sale of real estate.
Since there are no prerequisites for opening a real estate agency, it follows that anyone can open one. Applicants can obtain a license for the real estate business without any inquiries as to their education, knowledge or professional attitudes. On the one hand the competition this generates is beneficial, but on the other hand it creates few safeguards to protect the client.

When we deal with real estate we are dealing with objects of great value which cannot be compared to any other business. In our market, owning a house is a goal that the average citizen works towards for often his whole life. Selling property is just not as simple as selling potatoes. It is absurd, therefore, that the sale of potatoes is more carefully regulated than the sale of real estate.

Since there are no prerequisites for opening a real estate agency, it follows that anyone can open one. Applicants can obtain a license for the real estate business without any inquiries as to their education, knowledge or professional attitudes. On the one hand the competition this generates is beneficial, but on the other hand it creates few safeguards to protect the client.

For the time being, the position of real estate agents on the property market in Slovakia is weak and unenviable. There are two sorts of agents: real professionals with appropriate knowledge and education, who follow ethical standards and legal business principles; and the others, pseudo-entrepreneurs with only one aim in mind: to get as much money as possible by whatever means. The second group is quite numerous and is still increasing, abusing clients and profiting from the weaknesses in our laws and inefficient court system. Therefore, the reputations of real estate agents are sullied and citizens prefer to buy and sell property themselves because they do not trust them.

Without knowledge of property purchase procedures, ownership rights and other aspects of real estate transactions, private citizens find it very hard to manage the business themselves. Here, I see a great potential for educating the public. The chances of being cheated are great, and buyers should be cautious. People here still haven't learned to fight for their rights and protection. In developed countries they would get organized and would demand that elected representatives establish some laws. But this is another story.

With the intention of protecting clients, respected and responsible Slovak real estate agencies have established a professional organization called The National Association of Real Estate Offices of Slovakia [NARKS]. Its main role is to make the issuing of real estate business licenses similar to the situation in developed countries. This would help to rid the market of cheaters and increase the protection of both buyers and sellers as well as real estate agents. Members of NARKS take a pledge to follow the statutes of NARKS and the Code of Ethics, which means that they have to provide clients with professional services and their attitude has to be ethical and moral. NARKS members must also educate themselves, and in this case the association helps by providing basic education and seminars on various topics.

Andrea Tašárová is the Secretary General of NARKS (the National Association of Real Estate Agencies). She can be reached with questions or comments at narks@narks-real.sk

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