CIELA, the aspirant new trade body for the industry, is in talks with the HomeOwners Alliance.
Its chief executive Paula Higgins is ‘tentatively’ booked to attend CIELA’s recruitment events in September “as part of a panel of industry influencers”.
The HomeOwners Alliance, which sets out its stall as a body representing consumers’ interests, is one-third owned by conveyancing firm ULS Technology, which also operates estate agency comparison site www.estateagent4me.co.uk
CIELA, the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, is the brainchild of IT supplier Charlie Wright, who said that membership levels may now meet the minimum necessary for a full launch on October 1.
However, he did not say what membership numbers are now or what will be needed for a full launch this autumn – something that he has previously said was unlikely.
Wright, who recently attacked the trade press and our readers, said yesterday: “It has become clear that the most important post-launch priority for our members is to shine the spotlight on rogue independent agents.
“The consensus is that 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.”
Wright also said that CIELA will make available to all agents, including non-members, the ability to prove they comply with legislation. They will be able to do this free of charge via the CIELA website.
Agents who complete the process successfully will be provided with a certificate.
Another idea under consideration is the provision of a consumer guarantee, similar to ABTA in the travel industry, providing indemnity for customers against any loss arising from dishonest conduct.
Wright said that preliminary discussions are under way with an insurance company.
The HomeOwners Alliance has had an interesting relationship with estate agents. In January this year, it accused agents of having a “scant acquaintance with truth” and charging “blood-boiling prices for doing little”.
It also said that online agents would gobble up market share.