The fledgling trade body CIELA says it is going to institute a kitemark-style service for all estate agents to be able to display a “seal of integrity” to attract clients.
The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents - which Estate Agent Today revealed this week is almost certainly back on course to launch this autumn - says its first action will be “to make available to all agents (including non-members) the ability to prove they comply with all legislation, completely free of charge.”
This will be done via the CIELA website and will be open to all agents who, in the organisation’s words, “successfully complete the forthcoming online certification process, which will require evidence of compliance with all relevant legislation.”
In return, CIELA will provide agents with a downloadable PDF certificate for them to print and display, and a “seal of integrity” logo to display on the agency website.
“Sloppy standards among lower-quality agents, who are the ones most likely to be avoiding legislative requirements, stimulate the most public complaints and are the primary reason for the industry’s poor reputation. Further, there is still no organisation actively campaigning to improve the industry’s image” says CIELA founder Charlie Wright.
He says the group - which has had a troubled birth, including a statement earlier this month expressing self-doubt over the level of support it had amongst agents - will consider setting up a kind of indemnity system for buyers and sellers against any loss arising from agents’ dishonest conduct.
“Preliminary discussions are underway with an insurance company for the creation of such a policy” says Wright.
CIELA - which has been particularly critical of online agencies - is also in discussion with the consumer group HomeOwners’ Alliance, which in the past has been quick to praise online operators.
Paula Higgins, the chief executive of HOA, may be attending four events planned by CIELA in September in the final run up to recruit members ahead of its scheduled formal launch in October.
* There will be a video interview with Charlie Wright, founder of CIELA, on the Features section of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today over the weekend.