CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Lettings Agents which aims to represent the collective interests of independent agents, said yesterday afternoon that it is not currently receiving enough support to have any realistic chance of launching on October 1.
The admission came as it emerged that voting turnout by the NFoPP bodies at Friday’s AGM represented an apathetic 4.1% of membership.
CIELA said it may have under-estimated independents’ desire for a new trade body to represent them. It also spoke out on the eve of a rallying tour to get agents involved and, more importantly, committed.
At the moment, CIELA is in its pre-launch ‘incubation’ period until September 30.
It is inviting owners of independent agencies to join at £35 per month with the intention of attracting enough members to be able to fund a full launch and operation.
However, yesterday CIELA founder Charlie Wright said: “While we have received very strong vocal support, thousands of agents visiting our website and much encouragement from agents and suppliers we meet, this is not translating into membership sign-ups.
“Less than 5% of the hundreds of agents who pre-registered with us declaring their support when we first announced our intention to form have actually proceeded to join.
“It seems to be a case of chicken and egg.
“Everyone agrees the independent industry needs a collective voice to improve its national reputation, but hardly anyone seems willing to risk even £35 per month to support it.”
He said CIELA is not a functioning organisation yet, but is in a pre-launch period in the hope that adequate support will materialise to provide the resources necessary to fund such an operation.
Wright, a property software entrepreneur, said CIELA was formed in response to “a lack of alternative offerings of representation for the independent industry”.
He said that CIELA has built a website that allows members to join online, and has already also built the system that will allow members to virtually vote on operational matters, giving them direct input as to what the organisation will actually do on their behalf.
He went on: “The wait-and-see problem will cause CIELA to die before launch unless it’s overcome. Everyone is waiting for everyone else to join first.
“Or, there simply isn’t the demand for such an organisation that we were led to believe.
“Each agent needs to ask themselves the question: Is it worth risking £35 per month for the chance to form an organisation which will represent me nationally for the first time? If yes, join now, or it will never achieve the necessary support to launch.”
CIELA has announced a series of roadshow dates, free to owners of independent agents who want to find out more to attend a talk and debate the matters affecting the industry, with the first tomorrow, June 21, at the Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel at 9.30am.
The following talks, all at 9.30am and expected to last around two hours, are:
Birmingham, Wednesday June 28;
Bristol, Wednesday July 5;
London, Wednesday July 12.
There are then more dates throughout September, during the final month of the pre-launch period.
Tuesday 5 (Leeds); Thursday 7 (Liverpool); Tuesday 12 (W. Midlands); Thursday 14 (E. Midlands/E Anglia); Tuesday 19 (Exeter); Thursday 21 (Bournemouth); Tuesday 26 (Gatwick); Thursday 28 (London).