A network of almost 80 independent estate agency offices has launched what it calls a hard-hitting campaign against 'internet-based call centre agencies'.
The Experts in Property - made up by firms in the South West - says the campaign is aiming to highlight why vendors should use traditional agencies to sell their homes.
The organisation says it has created the campaign in response to a high number of its members requesting marketing material to help explain the differences between full service agents and online, fixed-fee alternatives.
It says that its members are 'disappointed' that there has not been help or support on this subject from trade bodies such as NAEA Propertymark.
The campaign's main element is a video titled 'What, no commission?' - which the Experts in Property expect to go viral on social media.
Featuring a prospective vendor and a 'smug-looking call centre representative', the video centres on a conversation about the service the vendor will receive and the fee she will be charged.
Aiming to highlight the fact that online agents' fees are commonly charged up-front, the video shows the vendor being told that she would have to do her own viewings and can expect little sales progression.
When asked if his firm will 'keep in contact with solicitors, mortgage advisors and everyone in the chain', the fictional agent replies: ‘No, but we have a national call centre that you may be able to get hold of'.
The vendor then suggests that the agency has no incentive to get the best price for their property, while the agent concludes by saying that the service he is offering is 'cheap'.
“Granted, listing agencies are cheap but is that really the case when all the basic extras are added on and they have no incentive to get the best price?" says Steve Moir, chairman of the Experts in Property.
"As we all know, there is a whole lot more to selling a home than simply advertising it on the internet, and finding a buyer is only the start of what a good agent does for [their] clients."
“Like full service estate agencies, some listing agencies are of course better than others and some vendors are obviously happy to take their own photographs, manage and conduct their own viewings, negotiate their own offers and liaise with solicitors and estate agents up and down the chain to sort any issues before they become problems," says Moir.
"But surely that doesn’t suit the majority, including those who work, those with small children and the older generation, all of whom may not have the time, the confidence, or the inclination to handle all that themselves."
He suggests that a rise in the rate of sales falling through could be in part down to a rise in the popularity of online agents, who show a 'lack of effort' in preventing fall-throughs.
Moir explains that some of the network’s members have begun offering to cover the up-front fees paid by vendors to online agents for their unsold homes, confident that they will achieve a sale for these new instructions, at the best price.
“We are on a mission to demonstrate that the traditional full-service estate agent is better and at the end of the day, more cost effective than online listing agents, with less stress and disappointment, all the way to a move, and we are prepared to take a hit to prove the point,” he says.
Alongside the video, the campaign also includes brochures which are available to all members of the Experts in Property.
The network says it is also keen to get its message across to vendors all over the country and so is happy to talk to individual firms, affinity groups or multi-office firms about providing them with their own ‘white label’ versions for a fee of £98 + vat.
You can see the campaign video here: