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Exclusive: Independent agents' group CIELA 'likely' to launch after all

The on-off-on saga of the fledgling trade group for independent agents has taken another twist.

The founder of the organisation suggests that a recent flurry of interest means it may well, after all, launch as scheduled in the autumn.

Software businessman Charlie Wright, who founded the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents earlier this year, says a six month period to assess interest from the industry will run its course before a "definite final" decision is taken in October.

But in an exclusive interview with Estate Agent Today editor Graham Norwood, Wright says that - contrary to a press statement made by the organisation earlier this month - the group looks on balance more likely to launch than to fold.

“In the last couple of weeks [membership] has picked up. The number of registrations of people joining - becoming paying members - has started to increase. It’s certainly given me the feeling that we’re on track to be able to launch in October” says Wright.

“If it stalls again then we won’t be able to launch but if it continues on this current trajectory, I think we will” he says.

Wright refuses to say how many agents have currently signed up to the group, which has a current membership fee of £35 a month. He claims he does not know the numbers who have so far paid and regards this as “irrelevant” because it does not necessarily reflect the level of support which exists for the organisation within the industry.

He says he has deliberately not kept track of any exact numbers, and insists that he will not give ammunition to non-members who may be hostile to the idea of the group and who may be fearful of it being set up because of its campaigning nature.

“We had this overwhelming rush of support at the start ... We had this extraordinary thing where to begin with we had huge numbers of support shown to us and a large number of those people have yet to join” says Wright, who admits fewer than 10 per cent of the original expressions of support for CIELA have converted into paid members.

“I think a lot of them are sitting on the fence and telling us they’re sitting on the fence, saying ‘we’re still waiting to see...we’re still not sure...we like the idea but we’re waiting to see if other agents get behind the idea or not” he adds.

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