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Online operators in firing line of independent agents' group

The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, which is to be set up formally from next week, has set out seven challenges that it wishes to tackle - many of them linked to the organisation's trenchant criticism of online agencies.

These are:

- Poor public industry image;

- Disreputable agent behaviour;

- Corporate agency marketing;

- Online advertising-only up-front fee agencies;

- Falling fees;

- Exploitation by major portals;

- Increasing data protection and legal compliance red tape.

The seven issues have been outlined in the latest statement made by the group’s founders, and follows its specific criticism of Purplebricks at the end of last week.

There will be a free ‘register’ for eligible agents - basically independent agency owners - and there will also be a subscription fee, not yet revealed. Those who pay it will have access to a closed discussion forum, to participate in surveys and online debates, and to vote on directions CIELA should take and “shaping the future of the organisation.”

The CIELA website has also announced further milestones for the fledgling organisation,including another meeting of the founder members on Wednesday of this week, with the organisation being inaugurated on March 1. 

A trade press launch is being scheduled for April 5 when there will be “full details of general membership, share ownership and launch plans.”

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