The long-running saga of whether independent agents’ group CIELA is ever going to launch appears to be nearing its end game with a statement from one of the organisers that “insufficient membership has been achieved for a full launch.”
Software entrepreneur Charlie Wright and the group’s secretary Samantha Westlake have been issued statements periodically since the start of 2017 claiming, variously, that there was unmet demand for an organisation to represent small-scale and independent agencies.
It also attracted much publicity by vocal criticism of online estate agencies in general and Purplebricks in particular.
Now a statement from CIELA - which stood for the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents - appears to suggest that the organisation is in its death throes but not quite out for the count.
The statement says: “The six month consultation pre-launch period ended as of Saturday September 30. Insufficient membership has been achieved for a full launch.
“However, discussions are now taking place with well-established, third parties who have expressed an interest in possible alliances or partnerships which may allow CIELA to fully form, although these discussions are at an early stage.
“If no such new alliance is formed, CIELA will be put on ice indefinitely, but with the membership, voting and referral systems held intact for any potential future revival.”
The statement goes on to say that difficult trading conditions may be the reason in recruiting members for the body, although at one time Wright - in a video interview at the start of the summer with EAT editor Graham Norwood - claimed membership numbers were not important and not necessarily an indicator of whether the group was a good idea.
“CIELA remains concerned for the future of many independent agents who are losing out to the unfair practices of some corporate agents' marketing, the illegal conduct of rogue independent agents and the downward pressure on fees caused by online/call-centre agents” says the most recent statement.
The statement made no reference to how many agencies had expressed any interest in becoming members of the organisation in recent months.