Leading independent property expert Kate Faulkner says the current row regarding the accuracy of Purplebricks’ sales figures should be the trigger for government regulation of the industry.
Faulkner - who works with consumer group Which? and who was a key contributor to last Sunday’s BBC Radio 5 Live programme investigating online agents - says the programme should serve a “final call” for regulation to be introduced.
“This, as with lettings and property management, should mean that all agents are trained to a level that means they deliver a good minimum level of service, be they online, hybrid or traditional” she says.
Faulkner, who runs the Propertychecklists consultancy and works closely with a range of industry players including Belvoir and Proptech firm View My Chain, says she believes that the current heated debate between traditional firms and those primarily or exclusively online will be short lived.
“I think that there will end up being three levels of service” she has told Estate Agent Today.
“Firstly there will be marketing your property for sale – and then you do the rest” she says, suggesting this would involve a fixed up-front fee or a higher price if a payment is retained until the property sells following a limited period on the market.
Secondly, she says, there will be a service level that involves “marketing and getting to the offer stage, including viewings/negotiations.” Pricing for this is likely to be a fixed fee or a commission rate.
Finally there will be the full service that until now has been associated almost exclusively with traditional agencies. “This is likely to be a commission versus fixed fee deal and you have the choice to pay up-front or delay, but if you delay there will be a price to pay” she suggests.
Faulkner says there is so much technological advance in the industry that consumers will eventually be much better looked after, whether they use what are now called online or traditional agencies - or any evolution of the models that currently compete with each other.
“With the above changes, the changes the government are looking at with their current call for evidence, I firmly believe in the next five years the home buying and selling process will see a substantial improvement” she concludes.