If you are looking to invest in real estate and build your own estate agent franchise, you may have already heard of the IPI, the Professional Institute of Estate Agents. This organisation is in charge of regulating the estate agency sector in Belgium and you must first be approved to become an estate agent. As knowing about it is vital to being able to work in the field, below you will find the main details about the IPI.
What is the IPI?
The IPI is a trade association governed by public law in charge of regulating the estate agent profession. Created in 1993 by the government, its purpose was to put an end to the growth of unfair competition and unhealthy practices that tarnished the sector’s image.
A trade association governed by public law is an autonomous, independent and representative body. This means that its various bodies are elected by its members, i.e., the estate agents themselves. The National Council of 18 estate agents is elected by all Belgian professionals for four years. Thus the environment benefits from a permanent self-regulation created by actors of the trade themselves.
The government exercises control over the IPI by an appointed commissioner. The latter attends the meetings of the National Council and may appeal to the Minister of Small Enterprises and Traders in case a decision is contrary to the law, jeopardising the Institute’s credit rating or not falling in line with the National Council’s functions.
The IPI’s main legal functions
The first major legal function of the IPI is to control and organise access to the profession. Since the Royal Decree of September 6th, 1993, the estate agent profession is protected, as are for example the professions of accountants, lawyers and doctors and only the IPI can award the title of "estate agent". As a result, the person with this certification can fully exercise his/her profession while being defended and protected.
The second major function of the IPI is to make disciplinary decisions based on complaints filed by clients or other agents. The IPI courts, known as the Chambers, have elected estate agents as well as magistrates and lawyers appointed by the King. Thus, all agents posing a threat to the consumer or harming the sector’s image may be excluded.
The IPI’s third function is to detect illegal practices and fake estate agents. The sector is, therefore, continuously self-regulating and practices that are detrimental to customers and real professionals are identified.
The IPI: so much more
The role of the IPI does not stop there. Through its website, magazine and presence on social networks, it provides estate agents, among others, with legal advice, training by mail and further education. The latter, for example, allows estate agents to re-train themselves and remain competitive over the years. Every estate agent is guaranteed to have the security, support and necessary information to be able to fully exercise their profession.
Under the watchful eye of the Minister of Small Enterprises and Traders, the IPI has made a systematic commitment to professionalise the estate agency sector. To this end, the Minister proposes the continuous education presented above, has made estate agents aware of the rights and obligations of their moral code and removes the certification from estate agents who do not have, for example, the required insurance and security. Every effort has been made to protect the consumer, because if he or she is confident and feels safe, the whole profession benefits.
The IPI: for you
The IPI is thus much more than just a regulatory body that is in charge of providing certification to estate agents. It is essential in maintaining a healthy sector for both consumers and professionals themselves. Now you know not only how to receive the title of estate agent in Belgium, but also who to contact to find out many tips, information and training for your future business. With the certainty that you will be protected, defended and supported, all you have to do is start and build your own estate agent franchise!