The fledgling and highly vocal CIELA group says it is possible it may not launch this autumn after all despite months of high-profile comments by some founding members.
A statement posted on the group’s website yesterday evening stated that its current pre-launch ‘incubation’ period - during which it is inviting owners of independent agencies to pay £35 a month in membership fees - has so far failed to attract sufficient support to launch formally, as planned, on October 1.
“While we have received very strong vocal support, thousands of agents visiting our website and much encouragement from agents and suppliers we meet, this is not translating into membership sign-ups” admits the founder, Charlie Wright.
Early this year he explained he was creating the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents to combat what he called the “threat” of online and corporate agencies; however, some agents expressed scepticism about the initiative, and the ‘pre-launch’ group first instructed and then dropped a public relations firm. In recent days the group announced a link with reviews organisation Feefo.
A series of strongly-worded statements opposing Purplebricks in particular generated headlines for the fledgling organisation but, it appears, few members.
“Less than five per cent of the hundreds of agents who pre-registered with us, declaring their support when we first announced our intention to form have actually proceeded to join. It seems to be a case of chicken and egg. Everyone agrees the independent industry needs a collective voice to improve its national reputation, but hardly anyone seems willing to risk even £35 per month to support it” admits Wright.
“The wait-and-see problem will cause CIELA to die before launch, unless it’s overcome. Everyone is waiting for everyone else to join first. Or, there simply isn’t the demand for such an organisation that we were led to believe” says Wright.
The statement from CIELA says: "Each agent needs to ask himself the question: Is it worth risking £35 per month for the chance to form an organisation which will represent me nationally for the first time? If yes, join now, or it will never achieve the necessary support to launch.”
Despite the situation CIELA insists it is going ahead with a series of roadshows aimed at encouraging membership, beginning with one in Manchester tomorrow. There will be further sessions throughout the rest of June and in July and September in Birmingham, Bristol, London, Leeds, Liverpool, the Midlands, East Anglia, Exeter, Bournemouth and Gatwick.