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LONDON-The proposed union of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors with the National Association of Estate Agents has moved a step closer with approval for the move from the Governing Council of the RICS. Under the plan RICS would take over the NAEA but continue to run it as a separate but wholly-owned body.

The RICS said the move would raise standards of conduct and competence in residential estate agency. With almost 20 000 residential estate agents operating under the RICS or NAEA accreditations, it said the union would offer the consumer a clear choice on the high street between estate agents who are highly qualified and regulated, and those who are not.

But opponents within the RICS say the move would dilute the prestige of the more academically rigorous RICS qualification, while some in the NAEA have objected to the actions of their leadership in steamrollering the merger through. The NAEA Council will meet to discuss the RICS plan next week.

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