NAEA Propertymark says there’s no appetite that it can see amongst its representatives across the UK for charging people £30 for viewing a property.
The idea came just over a week ago from an organisation called ViewRabbit, set up by an ex-Savills estate agent. So-called guaranteed viewings would be set up through the ViewRabbit platform rather than directly with an agent, in return for a fee.
The proposal has received a cool response from across the industry, with polls of agents on both this website and LinkedIn suggesting a substantial majority - 80 per cent or more - against the principle.
Now on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours consumer programme the policy adviser at Propertymark, Mark Hayward, said: “Agents want to encourage viewings and to facilitate viewings but we’ve done a straw poll of our regional executives who are placed throughout the UK and there really doesn’t seem to be an appetite for this.
“There are various ways you can organise viewings, whether it’s online or by a personal conversation but there are issues like managing expectations, security considerations about who am I letting into a property, when and why. Agents want to have a dialogue about this - they want to have a rapport [with the vendor].”
Hayward said virtual viewings had become much more commonplace, allowing prospective buyers or tenants to make an informed decision about whether they wanted to physically attend a property.
The Radio 4 programme also looked at whether the concept of charging a prospective tenant to view a lettings property contravened the Tenant Fees Act.
Hayward told listeners: “You cannot charge a prospective tenant any fee in advance - that’s going to be an issue and that’s widely policed.” He added that letting agents in that position have to abide by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
ViewRabbit founder Michael Riley, also on the programme, said: “You can’t choose the process you’re going through when you view a property. The standard viewing at the moment kind of restricts the times when you can view and you have a kind of game of telephone tennis with the estate agent when you can book the viewing.”
He continued: “You have very little control over the duration of that appointment and the worst thing is, if you do get that slot for a booking it can be cancelled at any time.”
He claimed that ViewRabbit was working with agents currently - although the service has declined to tell Estate Agent Today how many agents have signed up, or what companies they represent.
You can hear the discussion here - the segment begins about 14.5 minutes into the show.