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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Independent agents' trade body may provide back-office services

The independent estate and letting agents’ group under discussion this week could offer member agents back-office services.

The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, which we reported on last week, is having its first meeting tomorrow involving “a hand-picked selection of owner-managers” according to its website. If there is agreement at the meeting, the organisation will be officially launched on March 1. There would then be a structure of 12 regional, 76 county and 22 London borough seats.

In an interview with Estate Agent Today, Charlie Wright - who describes himself as Club Founder of the organisation - says it is possible, subject to agreement from the potential members themselves, that there could be “three or four tiers of membership.”

He says a future trade body of the kind he envisages - which would overtly champion the best independent agents - would be free at entry level but would then involve a series of “tiers of membership” which may then offer services in return for fees. 

“They’re pretty basic but absolutely essential things like energy, email hosting, executive coaching or staff training - things that small independent agents can easily spend too much on because they’re not benefitting from economies of scale or are reliant on high cost expertise without being able to bargain for lower-cost alternatives” says Wright.

“The aim is to substantially reduce overheads for the best independents, so they’re on a level playing field with the corporates. There’s a staggering over-expenditure on technology now because ‘techies’ know how to hoodwink some of the corporates, for example” he says.

Wright stressed in the interview that any action taken by the group, or in its name, would only happen if this week’s meeting voted for the organisation to be formally established.

He emphasised that in his opinion there has never been more pressure on independent estate agencies because of a drop-off in transactions, national online estate agencies driving down commissions, and what he called “the non-stop portal fee rises” on Rightmove and Zoopla in particular. 

But he says the time is right for independents to co-operate because the internet has in general weakened the previous advantages of corporate agencies. “Now people look on the internet to see properties wherever they are being sold whereas before the big advantage of the corporates was their size, and the fact their offices were on lots of high streets. That size advantage has gone” he claims.

Wright says further news about the establishment of the new group will be made on the CIELA website - here - and he wants anyone interested in backing the new group to make contact. 

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    I wish the club luck but I would argue the best solution is to encourage all agents to work to high standards and such organisations already exist, even if many believe they have not been particularly effective of late. Why reinvent the wheel? Just change the tyres.

    Rob  Davies

    Agreed.

     
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