A CEPI report on the Real Estate Professions and National Housing Markets in the EU

The issue of professional regulation is on the EU agenda. This is evident from the Communication published by the European Commission on 2 October on evaluating national regulations on access to professions. As the European representative body for the sector CEPI is participating in the discussions. Therefore CEPI has researched regulation in the real estate professions and is now publishing the results in a report which covers both regulation and the national characteristics of different housing markets in the EU.

The starting point for any such discussions concerning the real estate professions has to be the fact that there are substantial differences in the level of regulation in different countries. There are also differences in the activities of professionals in various countries, the services which they offer and the structure of the professions. Therefore the report looks at how the real estate professions are defined and their tasks and responsibilities. It is also important to be clear what exactly is meant by regulation. In the report regulation is broken up into different elements namely regulation of access, protection of title, registration and reserved activities. What appears to be evident is that these elements, or at least some of them, are present in the majority of EU countries, even those which are normally considered to be light on regulation.

The growth of regulated education is another important factor which is dealt with in this report together with certification and self-regulation. The real estate professions have been deregulated in some countries and the matter is under discussion in certain other countries. However there are also ongoing discussions about the introduction of regulation in some countries, even whilst others are deregulating. For example the introduction of regulation is under discussion in the Czech Republic and has taken place recently in Ireland with the creation of the Property Regulatory Authority in 2012 by the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011. Therefore this issue is complex and involves varying trends.

The substantial differences which exist in the level of regulation are reflected in the varying characteristics of the national markets which possess different features as outlined in the report. An understanding of the markets is important because the nature of the markets influences the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders including real estate professionals.

In completing this report CEPI hopes to contribute towards the ongoing debate at both EU and national level about the regulation or deregulation of professional services. Therefore the report draws some conclusions which it is hoped will contribute to the understanding of the real estate professions as well as the national housing markets. Having demonstrated how far these remain apart the assumption, and indeed conviction, of CEPI is that, with the deepening of the internal market in the EU, ways have to be found of encouraging greater convergence for real estate professionals in terms of professional regulation.

Click here to read the report