This weekend saw a rare occurrence in the natural world; worthy of Sir David Attenborough at his most breathlessly awestruck. Estate agents-not a breed known for their piety-were seen flocking to their local places of worship to offer thanks and in some cases the sacrifice of their first born (funny lot up in Abersychan…) to Saint Listalot, the patron saint of property agents. Why such reverent behaviour? The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT)-an organisation as sleek as its name and one that until last week I never knew existed-has deemed that advertising claims must be “accurate and truthful”. Right, I’ve got a ten inch… hydrangea growing in the garden and as regular readers of the blog will attest, Miss Minogue is but one of my many female admirers. This need for rectitude is all because the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against our friends at Purplebricks (PB). James Munro, head of the NTSEAT stated, “we have seen many examples of online agents making unsubstantiated claims about their selling fees when compared to traditional or high street agents” www.propertyindustryeye.com 8 July 2017 “These businesses should ensure that they are making comparisons against like-for-like services,” The Negotiator 11 July 2017
Very true James, but may I be so bold as to say, do something about it then? When I read that you cite “many” examples of the practice, why has it been allowed to go on for so long? Before us traditional agents get too excited, let’s see what it really means. Well in the long term, the square root of $%£K all. As we have blogged before, the type of client who will use the non-traditional on-liners will know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, so will want one thing and one thing only, the cheapest agent available. Q.E.D. Before we traditional agents get too sanctimonious and celebrate our first victory over PB, we should look at ourselves in the shaving mirror (yes, you too those ladies of a more hirsute nature). How many agents publish their selling fees and are suitably candid when asked about fees over the telephone? This is when we stray into PB territory: because PB adverts open the door by getting the vendor to be sufficiently interested to ring and book an appointment for a valuation.In exactly the same fashion, traditional agents will instruct staff to ‘just get me there’ and the fee is never discussed openly until the appointment. So are we as bad as each other? We certainly share certain characteristics in that all we really want is to get inside the front door to allow us to display our wares (back to my hydrangea, ladies…) One shouldn’t leave oneself open to criticism by flatly refusing to discuss fees prior to an appointment. If a potential vendor rings and asks about fees, the response should surely be, “very reasonable, are fees the most important issue for you when selling your property?” Their answer will tell you more than you or they, realise.