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Buyers warned about ‘wild west’ of social media sales

Buyers should be mindful about the rise of so called ‘Insta-agents,’ a property body has warned.

The National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) claims rising numbers of people are now ditching estate-agents and are choosing  to buy or sell using social media instead. 

The group said the attraction is obvious as platforms such as Instagram often see a listing get more than 100,000 daily impressions, which is 20 times the 4,000 views that the best performing advert on Rightmove can generate.


But NAPB spokesman Jonathan Rolande,  warns this area is a “virtual wild west.”

He said: “Social media has been helping buyers, sellers and agents for years. But the rise of the ‘Insta-agent’ is different.  Being so image and video heavy, it relies less on one post and comments, and much more on a constant stream of engaging, visual ideas.

“People ‘buy into’ the person and the brand, rather than just the post.  It often encourages people to desire and buy things they didn’t even know they wanted, something the rigidity of a Rightmove search won’t do.

“But there are downsides. Be mindful you are effectively entering the Wild West when agents are cut out. Agents are regulated and must abide by a strict Code of Practice, a private seller does not. Also, if you are the buyer, how sure are you that you are purchasing it from the true owner? Fraud and money laundering is more likely if checks aren’t being mad.

“Also, the pictures might look amazing, but is the property really anything like as described? Contrary to popular opinion, estate agents' details must be completely accurate and also include useful information on things like energy efficiency.”

Rolande said agents provided added benefits in a transaction such as speaking directly to other property professionals involved in a chain, and even the solicitors. 

He added: “This speeds up the sales process and massively reduces the chances of a fall through. Private buyers and sellers can’t do this.

“Instagram is an essential part of the buying and selling toolkit. I would always use a good estate agent – not to is simply a false economy. However it should be one that is flexible and forward-thinking, and if they don’t have an engaging and well-followed social media following, look for a different one.”


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