Author Archives: Chris Wood

Why is NTSEAT refusing to answer basic questions as a midnight tonight deadline looms?

I have written about NTSEAT before having worked with them in the past to assist them protect consumers and law-abiding agents from illegal and unlawful practices.

Since the mid-1980s’ I have always worked inside and with the law and, where appropriate, campaigned to improve the laws surrounding property ownership, estate agency and property transfer. That position and ethos has not, nor will ever, change.

Now, however, it seems that the very people who are tasked with upholding the law and enforcing it, are refusing to answer basic questions or uphold basic principles of common law. What follows below is the unedited (except to preserve GDPR) correspondence between myself and NTSEAT.

I believe the correspondence is of vital interest to the industry and invite constructive comments and honest debate.

National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Taken from the NTSEAT web page on Powys Council website

REPRODUCED IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, LATEST TO OLDEST

REDACTED WHERE APPROPRIATE

Wed 05/09/2018 16:46

Dear Mr Wood

Our function at present is to ensure compliance with the ASA ruling. The deadline is tomorrow night for compliance.

If you fail to comply with the ruling, we will then commence an investigation under all applicable legislation and will conduct this investigation within the powers and obligations of that legislation. Only the Courts can interpret that legislation and make a decision as to the guilt of a defendant, and a prosecution would only take place if evidence uncovered in an investigation was deemed capable of meeting the required burden of proof.

Kind Regards

REDACTED

REDACTED

Investigator – National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

REDACTED

Powys County Council | Cyngor Sir Powys, Y Gwalia, Llandrindod, Powys, LD1 6AA

REDACTED@powys.gov.uk|REDACTED@powys.gcsx.gov.uk | @tsestateagency

estate.agency@powys.gov.uk | www.powys.gov.uk/estateagency |www.powys.gov.uk/gwerthwyrtai

   

Croesewir gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg/Correspondence welcomed in Welsh and English

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team wishes to make it clear that when providing any advice or guidance:

  • Legislation may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of further information. We accept no legal liability for the information provided.
  • Only the courts can interpret statutory legislation with any authority.
  • This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, nor substitute for, the relevant law. Independent legal advice should be sought where appropriate.
  • Sometimes advice or guidance will be linked to external sites over which we have no control and for which we accept no responsibility.
  • We aim to keep any advice or guidance timely and accurate. If any inaccuracies or omissions are brought to our attention we will try to deal with these as quickly as possible.

Dear REDACTED
It is noted that NTSEAT are avoiding answering all of my reasonable questions in this matter including that regarding my amended blog article which the ASA and NTSEAT were made aware of several weeks ago. Please explain why NTSEAT is not acting transparently and does not appear to have a presumption of innocence in my case.

Can NTSEAT confirm that any investigation will comply with normal TSO procedures which are, as I understand it:
1. Presumed innocence with informed discussion to resolve
2. If unresolved; formal discussion under caution.
3. Resolution or potential prosecution considered.
Thank you.
Regards
Chris Wood
Director


On 5 Sep 2018, at 15:08, REDACTED (CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) REDACTED@powys.gov.uk> wrote:
Dear Mr Wood

This matter has been referred to us, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, by National Trading Standards. This is a referral tasked to this team because Camden are no longer dealing with ASA legal backstop work. This was tasked to us because it is in relation to an estate agency business.

All advertisements are required to meet the standards of British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing. The ASA ruling against you states that the specified advert (blog and tweet) must not appear again in their current form. The ASA have made this ruling based on the evidence provided including that from yourself.

If you do not comply with the ruling by 23.59 on 6 September, we (NTSEAT) will commence an investigation into the alleged offences. Any action taken will be as considered appropriate, and dependant on the evidence available. Therefore I cannot tell you at this time what action would be taken against you should you fail to comply with the ruling.

I trust that clarifies the matter for you.

REDACTED
Investigator – National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team
Powys County Council | Cyngor Sir Powys, Y Gwalia, Llandrindod, Powys, LD1 6AA
REDACTED@powys.gov.uk|REDACTED@powys.gcsx.gov.uk | @tsestateagency
estate.agency@powys.gov.uk | http://www.powys.gov.uk/estateagency |www.powys.gov.uk/gwerthwyrtai
________________________________________

Croesewir gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg/Correspondence welcomed in Welsh and English

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team wishes to make it clear that when providing any advice or guidance:
• Legislation may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of further information. We accept no legal liability for the information provided.
• Only the courts can interpret statutory legislation with any authority.
• This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, nor substitute for, the relevant law. Independent legal advice should be sought where appropriate.
• Sometimes advice or guidance will be linked to external sites over which we have no control and for which we accept no responsibility.
• We aim to keep any advice or guidance timely and accurate. If any inaccuracies or omissions are brought to our attention we will try to deal with these as quickly as possible.


From: Chris Wood <chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk>
Sent: 05 September 2018 14:42
To: REDACTED (CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Cc: REDACTED <REDACTED@.com>
Subject: RE: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team
Importance: High

Dear REDACTED
I have replied in line below. A response by return is required as time is of the essence.
Thank you.

Chris Wood CertREA CPEA
Director
PDQ Estates Ltd – “…The best small estate agents in the UK” The Telegraph
Office 01736 339143 / 01326 561561
Mobile REDACTED

Who are you employing as an estate agent and what skills do they have?
Always ask to see their CV before signing any contract – Here’s mine

From: REDACTED (CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Sent: 05 September 2018 13:50
To: Chris Wood <chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk>
Subject: RE: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Dear Mr Wood

In response to your questions,

Why the NTSEAT has taken it upon itself to go outside of its own remit?

This matter has been referred to us by NTS.
[Chris Wood] REDACTED, your title (Investigator – National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team) suggests that you work for NTSEAT which indicates that NTSEAT has self-referred this case to itself and is still outside of its own remit. Can you clarify please?

On what specific grounds does NTSEAT believe I have transgressed the 1979 Estate Agents Act and on what remit is NTSEAT acting?

This is in relation to the ruling made by ASA and referral from NTS.
[Chris Wood] Respectfully, this does not answer the question. The NTSEAT team has a clear mandate to only deal with matters pertaining to the 1979 Estate Agents Act. This matter does not apply to that act and is, therefore, not within NTSEATs remit to act upon.

NTSEAT to explain which ‘triggers’ on its own referral page, are applicable, in its’ opinion in this case http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/licensing-trading-standards/national-trading-standards-estate-agency-team/referrals-from-trading-standards-or-police/

Currently we are requesting that you comply with the ASA ruling. We are not at present investigating your fitness to practice. Should you fail to comply with this ruling, we will commence an investigation into any alleged offences or “triggers” and will communicate with you as appropriate.
[Chris Wood] This, again, avoids answering the question posed. You have asked me to comply with a ruling from a body with no statutory powers. To do so, would be an admission of guilt. I am happy to comply with an investigation by my local trading standards or Croydon Trading Standards or, if need be, Powys Trading Standards however, I cannot do so if I am not formally informed what specific law/ laws I am alleged to have transgressed.

Why has NTSEAT, with no consultation or investigation, taken the word of a non-statutory, unregulated, self-appointed body (a quasi’ consumer) against a law-abiding business making fair comment in the public interest?

Your blog and tweet have been found not to be in accordance with the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.
[Chris Wood] I ask again, who, specifically, found this to be the case? Is this NTSEAT taking the word of a non-statutory body at face value or, have NTSEAT investigated and found this to be the case? If the latter, why was I not consulted with on the matter as part of a process prior to a ruling by NTSEAT who, again, have no jurisdiction under their published mandate.

Why has NTSEAT seemingly ignored its own enforcement policy and that of the Government Regulators code (attached)?

This matter has been referred to us by NTS.
[Chris Wood] See above. Who is ‘us’ and why was this not referred to the local TSO in Cornwall as prescribed in good normal practice?

Has NTSEAT asked the ASA why this was not passed direct to Croydon TSO (as set out in the ASAs’ own Standard Operational Procedures) who would normally pass this on to the Trading Standards team local to the business involved (Cornwall Trading Standards in this case)? This is the correct, established and published process.

This matter has been referred to us by NTS. It is for NTS to decide the appropriate referral process.
[Chris Wood] Again, who is ‘us’ and can you reference me where in the NTSEAT/ Powys and governmental guidance notes NTSEAT has this mandate?

We reiterate the requirement for your compliance with the ASA ruling by 23.59 on 6 September 2018.
[Chris Wood] You have made no comment on the post ruling amendment to the site I made some weeks ago as to whether the amendment gives sufficient clarity to the original piece. What will be the next stage/ form of action if I were to refuse to comply with the ruling of the non-statutory body which appears not to have been formally investigated by Trading Standards Officers?

Kind Regards
REDACTED


REDACTED
Investigator – National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team
REDACTED
Powys County Council | Cyngor Sir Powys, Y Gwalia, Llandrindod, Powys, LD1 6AA
REDACTED@powys.gov.uk|REDACTED@powys.gcsx.gov.uk | @tsestateagency
estate.agency@powys.gov.uk | http://www.powys.gov.uk/estateagency |www.powys.gov.uk/gwerthwyrtai
________________________________________

Croesewir gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg/Correspondence welcomed in Welsh and English

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team wishes to make it clear that when providing any advice or guidance:
• Legislation may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of further information. We accept no legal liability for the information provided.
• Only the courts can interpret statutory legislation with any authority.
• This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, nor substitute for, the relevant law. Independent legal advice should be sought where appropriate.
• Sometimes advice or guidance will be linked to external sites over which we have no control and for which we accept no responsibility.
• We aim to keep any advice or guidance timely and accurate. If any inaccuracies or omissions are brought to our attention we will try to deal with these as quickly as possible.


From: Chris Wood <chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk>
Sent: 31 August 2018 17:00
To: REDACTED(CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Cc: REDACTED@cap.org.uk>; REDACTED@cornwall.gov.uk>; REDACTED@gmail.com>; REDACTED@powys.gov.uk; REDACTED.mp@parliament.uk>; REDACTED@hotmail.com>
Subject: RE: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Dear REDACTED
I remain happy to comply with any proper and legitimate investigation/ process and outcome and would be grateful if you could answer the reasonable questions I posed in my last email.
Thank you.
Regards

Chris Wood CertREA CPEA
Director
PDQ Estates Ltd – “…The best small estate agents in the UK” The Telegraph
Office 01736 339143 / 01326 561561
Mobile 07771607121

Who are you employing as an estate agent and what skills do they have?
Always ask to see their CV before signing any contract – Here’s mine

From: REDACTED (CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Sent: 31 August 2018 16:46
To: Chris Wood <chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk>
Subject: RE: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Dear Mr Wood

I will continue to correspond with you by email only, until you inform me otherwise.

National Trading Standards have referred this investigation to our team as it is within our remit.

We have considered the case information as provided by ASA and would re-iterate our requirement that you comply with the ruling by 23.59 on 6 September. Failure to do so will result in enforcement action under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

Advertisements which are not in accordance with the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, and inclusion of material produced by a third party without their authorisation are not in accordance with The Property Ombudsman’s Codes of Practice for Residential Estate Agents and should you fail to comply with the ASA ruling by 6 September we will also refer this matter to TPOS for their consideration.

Kind Regards
REDACTED


From: Chris Wood [mailto:chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk]
Sent: 25 August 2018 11:51
To: REDACTED (CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Cc: REDACTED@cap.org.uk>; REDACTED@cornwall.gov.uk>; REDACTED@gmail.com>; REDACTED@powys.gov.uk; REDACTED.mp@parliament.uk>; REDACTED@hotmail.com>
Subject: RE: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Dear REDACTED
Thank you for your letter (attached), the contents of which I note. Please reply using email and not post as I am moving between homes at present and some post appears to be going astray.

I have never knowingly nor have any intention of misleading the public in any way and will happily comply with any proper and legitimate investigation/ process and outcome. That said, I do not believe I have mislead the public in this instance and take exception to a non-statutory, non-governmental body (the ASA) publishing what I believe to be defamatory statements about my personal integrity and business and, for the NTSEAT to agree with this situation with no apparent investigation and, insist I comply with that decision (letter attached) despite no formal interview or due process. This is shameful and, possibly, unlawful behaviour by Powys Council who I believe have made this a personal matter.

As per previous correspondence and conversations with the ASA and NTSEAT I would ask that NTSEAT please explain its actions in this matter. Namely:

Why the NTSEAT has taken it upon itself to go outside of its own remit? “The National Trading Standards Team does not mediate or arbitrate in individual complaints between estate agents and consumers (or) award civil redress to aggrieved parties. (Nor does it) “conduct ‘routine’ investigations outside of its remit in issuing prohibition or warning orders under the Estate Agency Act 1979”.
On what specific grounds does NTSEAT believe I have transgressed the 1979 Estate Agents Act and on what remit is NTSEAT acting?
NTSEAT to explain which ‘triggers’ on its own referral page, are applicable, in its’ opinion in this case http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/licensing-trading-standards/national-trading-standards-estate-agency-team/referrals-from-trading-standards-or-police/
Why has NTSEAT, with no consultation or investigation, taken the word of a non-statutory, unregulated, self-appointed body (a quasi’ consumer) against a law-abiding business making fair comment in the public interest?
Why has NTSEAT seemingly ignored its own enforcement policy and that of the Government Regulators code (attached)?
Has NTSEAT asked the ASA why this was not passed direct to Croydon TSO (as set out in the ASAs’ own Standard Operational Procedures) who would normally pass this on to the Trading Standards team local to the business involved (Cornwall Trading Standards in this case)? This is the correct, established and published process.
Taken from the NTSEAT website:
The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team is responsible for:
issuing individual banning or warning orders under the Act (1979 Estate Agents Act)
maintaining a public register of such banning or warning orders
approving and monitoring consumer redress scheme
providing generic advice and guidance on estate agency matters, in conjunction with Citizen’s Advice, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and other partner agencies
What we don’t do:
The National Trading Standards Team does not:
mediate or arbitrate in individual complaints between estate agents and consumers.
award civil redress to aggrieved parties.
conduct ‘routine’ investigations outside of its remit in issuing prohibition or warning orders under the Estate Agency Act 1979
I await a response by return. Time, as NTSEAT have made clear, is of the essence.
Regards
Chris Wood
Director
PDQ Estates Ltd
Penzance (01736) 339143 – Option 1
Helston (01326) 561561 – Option 1
Mobile – REDACTED
chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk

Britain’s best small estate agents
The top 20 small estate agents in Britain who go above and beyond to help their customers – The Telegraph

When you employ an estate agent to advise you on the marketing of your most expensive asset, your family home and, to negotiate the best selling price for you, make sure you ask to see their CV. Here’s mine


From: REDACTED(CSP – Regeneration and Corporate Property) <REDACTED@powys.gov.uk>
Sent: 23 August 2018 13:28
To: Chris Wood <chris.wood@pdq-property.co.uk>
Cc: JREDACTED@cap.org.uk>
Subject: National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team

Dear Mr Wood

It has come to my attention that you sent an email to James Tebbett stating that you have not been contacted regarding the referral to NTSEAT. Please find attached a letter posted on 16 August requiring you to comply with the ASA ruling within 14 days of the date of the letter. Since you claim not to have received any correspondence I am willing to commence the 14 days from today and would expect your full compliance by 23.59 on 6 September 2018.

Kind Regards

REDACTED

REDACTED
Investigator – National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team
REDACTED
Powys County Council | Cyngor Sir Powys, Y Gwalia, Llandrindod, Powys, LD1 6AA
REDACTED@powys.gov.uk|REDACTED@ntseat.cjsm.net | @tsestateagency
estate.agency@powys.gov.uk | http://www.powys.gov.uk/estateagency |www.powys.gov.uk/gwerthwyrtai
________________________________________

Croesewir gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg/Correspondence welcomed in Welsh and English

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team wishes to make it clear that when providing any advice or guidance:
• Legislation may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of further information. We accept no legal liability for the information provided.
• Only the courts can interpret statutory legislation with any authority.
• This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, nor substitute for, the relevant law. Independent legal advice should be sought where appropriate.
• Sometimes advice or guidance will be linked to external sites over which we have no control and for which we accept no responsibility.
• We aim to keep any advice or guidance timely and accurate. If any inaccuracies or omissions are brought to our attention we will try to deal with these as quickly as possible.

________________________________________
Mae’r e bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiad iddo yn gyfrinachol ac fe’i bwriedir ar gyfer y sawl a enwir arno yn unig. Gall gynnwys gwybodaeth freintiedig. Os yw wedi eich cyrraedd trwy gamgymeriad ni ellwch ei gopio, ei ddosbarthu na’i ddangos i unrhyw un arall a dylech gysylltu gyda Cyngor Sir Powys ar unwaith. Mae unrhyw gynnwys nad yw’n ymwneud gyda busnes swyddogol Cyngor Sir Powys yn bersonol i’r awdur ac nid yw’n awdurdodedig gan y Cyngor.
This e mail and any attachments are confidential and intended for the named recipient only. The content may contain privileged information. If it has reached you by mistake, you should not copy, distribute or show the content to anyone but should contact Powys County Council at once. Any content that is not pertinent to Powys County Council business is personal to the author, and is not necessarily the view of the Council.
________________________________________

PUBLISHED CORRESPONDENCE ENDS

NTSEAT Terms of reference

Rules and requirements for a referral to NTSEAT

 

Are some landlords, insurers, lenders and agents discriminating against women and the disabled?

Shelter is in the news today as it is bringing a test case as to whether a blanket ban on tenants who are on benefits is discrimination.

landlord

The traditional view of a landlord is far from the truth in the vast majority of cases.

The case made on BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ program this morning was that as most people receiving housing benefit are women so, it is sexual discrimination. Shelter also claim that anyone on disability benefit is (logically) disabled and, thus, such a policy of automatic exclusion constitutes disability discrimination.

It has the makings of an interesting case and one which will potentially affect millions of tenants, landlords, agents, insurers and lenders etc.

At PDQ, we have always advised our clients that most people on benefits are good, decent people who will look after a property and consider each case on its merits, whether they are on benefits or not. The choice remains with our landlord clients.

As the law stands at present it is the landlords personal choice as to who they let a home to however, some major insurers limit a landlords choice by stating they will not provide landlord insurance if they let to a person on benefits. We have had a number of cases where a landlord has wanted to let to a tenant on benefits but has been unable to do as the insurance forbids it.

OPINION

Our job as agents is to look after the interests of and on (lawful) instructions from our landlord clients. We also have an obligation to act within the laws of the land and I believe this case may show that agents, landlords, insurers or lenders who have blanket bans on some sectors of society could be acting in a discriminatory manner.

My view as an agent is that private landlords must have the right to let to the most suitable person based on their suitability for the property and appropriate references, including financial ability to pay the rent (with or without additional financial assistance). I have experienced excellent tenants who were (and are) on benefits and I have experience of awful tenants who were personally very affluent.

A good agent will properly assess the tenant and make a judgement on the tenants’ at the viewing and in the office/ over the phone. Asking about benefits is a factor in that process but should be seen as a normal part of the affordability test.

Landlords deserve to have their property looked after and the rent paid on time. Tenants deserve fair treatment, fair rent and a safe and comfortable home. They also have the responsibility to look after the property and to pay the rent on time.

One final, if not directly related, thought. Tenants, like homeowners cannot always afford where they want to live and it is not the responsibility of the private sector to resolve the shortage of public housing.

Chris Wood

Director – PDQ Estates Ltd

Response to todays’ ASA ruling

Response to the ASA ruling on my blog from 2014.

This paragraph was edited today 12.7.2018 at the request of Trading Standards – After contact with Cornwall Trading Standards (CTS) office regarding an alleged breach of Consumer Protection Offences, they provided clarification against alleged offences and how they would investigate.

Following that request and previous conversations, I have taken the decision that my original blog and tweet remain published and reiterate that I voluntarily placed this matter in the hands of CTS some weeks ago.

My response to the ASA ruling is as follows:

“This is a bizarre decision by the ASA that:

  • Undermines many of its own previous decisions and its own stated best practice* about objective substantiation.
  • Severely undermines the data and reliability of ZPG PLC as a supplier of reliable commercial and publicly available housing market data**
  • Fails to take account of evidenced cross-referenced data from HM Land Registry (HMLR) and ZPG PLC that evidence‘ data anomalies’ between what Purplebricks reported the status of a property to two different portals including properties marked and counted as sold in 2016/17 which are not showing as registered at HMLR
  • Appears to suggest that any agent can claim a 100% list to sold ratio by claiming an infinite marketing period – I.e. the property may sell at sometime in the next few millennia, therefore, it is inaccurate to class that customer as having lost money if it hasn’t sold within what many might deem a reasonable period of marketing (a twelve or more month marketing period)
  • May, if unchallenged, make all data-sourced referenced statements made by any journalist, business or campaign group etc. liable to a charge of being retrospectively labelled “misleading”. This appears to make any person making a statement in good faith based on referenced data in a blog or advertisement, vicariously liable if that data is later proved to be unreliable or flawed.

What is gratifying after almost a year of dealing with this case is that the data, having now been thoroughly cross-referenced, independently checked and passed on to trading standards officers shows that, in the postcode areas*** stated in my article, Purplebricks PLC have a listing to sold ratio of just 41% since they began trading in those areas, with 47% of properties marked (and cross-referenced) as genuinely withdrawn (no longer marketed anywhere Purplebricks have contractually committed to market customers homes). It is also clear that Purplebricks has either innocently, negligently, or deliberately listed and advertised some properties with different status’ to different data suppliers/ portals for purposes unknown. This information and all data has now been passed to Cornwall Trading Standards officers.

Whilst I need to make it very clear that these local area results may not reflect a true National picture, the 41% list to sold is far closer to Jefferies analysis of #PURP s’ National list to sold ratio of a coin toss chance of selling at 51%, and still a very long way away from the listing to sold ratio claim of 88% made by Mr Michael Bruce CEO in his BBC interview on Moneybox, the 91.4% list to sold ratio stated by Schillings, the PLCs’ libel lawyers**** in a cease and desist letter to me (reference attached) or, the in excess of 80% tweeted by Mr Kenny Bruce (Reference – see attached screengrab)

The ASA requires me to undertake to remove the article, with the sanction of reporting me to trading standards if I fail to comply. It is my understanding from the ASA and of normal practice that any complaint by the ASA will be passed to the advertisers local Trading Standards Team for investigation and, if appropriate, action. This ruling has come about in part due toZPG PLCs’ unreliable data. ZPG PLC have been contacted about this matter and further action may follow.

* Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Reference https://www.asa.org.uk/type/non_broadcast/code_section/03.html )

**The ASA state that ZPG PLC informed the ASA that headings such as ‘withdrawn’ or ‘sold’, might not mean a property was withdrawn at all in some instances. Chris Wood states that, having cross-referenced the data with HM Land Registry, the EPC register and another independent data source, it is clear that the commercial data supplied by ZPG PLC was indeed unreliable, that ZPG PLC seemingly failed to undertake basic cross-referencing with open source government databases to validate their own data and, that, based on emails held by Chris Wood from the ASA, ZPG PLC were seemingly fully aware of this.

Extract of email to Chris Wood from the ASA with comment

“The Zoopla data

The Zoopla data does not reveal whether each property has been sold by PurpleBricks because Zoopla have said that “withdrawn” properties could include properties sold by PurpleBricks on their own website. While I appreciate you took the data at face value, your reliance on it does render the claims in your ads misleading because your claims assume that all properties cited as “withdrawn” have not been sold.

Interpretation of the claim on Twitter

We remain of the view that it cannot be guaranteed that properties which have not sold for ten months, may sell after those ten months. However, in any case, as we have set out in the Assessment, we cannot rely on the Jefferies Report as the figures do not relate to the period and region cited in the ad, and because we have not seen the source of the figure.”

[CW]  A property marked as withdrawn from sale can reasonably be regarded as withdrawn from sale when another heading from the same data set is marked as ‘SOLD’. It is either sold, withdrawn, sold stc or, still for sale. These are the clear and unambiguous headings used by ZPG.

[CW] ZPG appear to admit that the status of a property has been reported differently on different websites.Further checking of that data revealed, in some instances that the property had not been sold at all – (not showing at HMLR after a year or more)

[CW]  The ASA go on to imply in various emails, that any consumer must allow a property an infinite amount of time to sell before being able to claim they have not sold “instruct us to sell £1,199” This is unreasonable and undermines many agents claims, including PurpleBricks own published selling times claims. I am happy to test this matter with Trading Standards.

*** For postcode areas:                                               

TR3 TR3 6 TR3 7                                               

TR11 TR11 2 TR11 3 TR11 4 TR11 5 TR11 9                                           

TR12 TR12 6 TR12 7                                       

TR13 TR13 0 TR13 3 TR13 8 TR13 9                                          

TR14 TR14 0 TR14 7 TR14 8 TR14 9                                          

TR17 TR17 0                                      

TR18 TR18 2 TR18 3 TR18 4 TR18 5 TR18 9                                           

TR19 TR19 6 TR19 7                                       

TR20 TR20 8 TR20 9                                       

TR26 TR26 1 TR26 2 TR26 3 TR26 9                                          

TR27 TR27 4 TR27 5 TR27 6 TR27 9                                          

Date range 01/01/2014 – 04/05/2018 inclusive                                

NOTE: Purplebricks first instruction was                               

not registered in West Cornwall until 03/03/2015                                       

Call-centre estate agents national market share falls by 24% in the month*

Simon Pegg tele sales call centre.gif

In May, Mike DelPrete caused eyebrows to be raised in estate agency when he claimed that call-centre agents (incorrectly labelled online agents by some**), as a sector, had increased their market share of new listing to 7.1% from a previous (relatively) steady 5% or so for the past year or two. However, in his latest release, covered in Estate Agent Today, his research shows a 24% reversal in fortunes in the call-centre sectors share as a whole.

28/06/2018 EAT Today: “He (Mike DelPrete) also says that the total market share of the top five online agencies, based on new listings, is down to 5.4 per cent for May.”

08/05/2017 EAT Today: “Specifically, he (Mike DelPrete) says new listings market share for the online agents in the UK is up from 5.7 per cent in January to 7.1 per cent last month.”

At a glance, DelPretes’ data does not appear to take into account properties that have been multi-listed by some agents (portal juggled) but, nonetheless, demonstrates that the call-centre agency model is struggling to gain the massive, sustained growth in market share it has long promised as a sector.

There could be a number of factors at play in this dramatic drop much of which could be further bad publicity over the model and its chief players facing negative press from ASA rulings and consumer programs but predominantly on social media with Purplebricks, in particular, facing a daily barrage of complaints and abuse from unhappy customers which may be affecting other players in the sector by association.


*7.1% in May to 5.4% in June = 1.7 percentage point, a drop of 23.94% Source EAT as referenced in the article.
**It is incorrect to state that call-centre agents (those without high  street offices) are online, as almost all estate agents are online’ with high street agents having been so in the main since the early 1990s’. A more accurate and less confusing description of the YOPAs’ eMoovs’ and Purplebricks brands then, is “call-centre”.

Does your agent knows the AIDA principle?

better at attracting views rightmove

From 10% – 1,173% more interest with PDQ than other similar listings

If you are selling a property, it’s key that you present your home in a way that will help it sell and, that your agent then knows how to present it to potential buyers that will find a buyer at a great price in the shortest possible time (before it goes stale on the market). This is where the AIDA principle comes in.
 
ATTENTION – The property must be advertised and presented in a way that catches a potential buyers attention
INTEREST – Having caught the attention of a potential buyer, their interest must be piqued as to potential buyer benefits and how the property and its features might fit with their needs, desires and aspirational lifestyle.
DESIRE – The potential buyer develops a positive emotional interest in the property.
ACTION – The potential buyers forms a purchase intention, compares with other similar properties, potentially books a viewing and, ultimately, makes a purchase.
 
Every property will sell if it is presented well and priced commensurate with the market and any special buyers*
 
*A special buyer is one that might pay above what the market might be expected to stand due to a non-market-related need, often personal or, financial (such as a ransom strip etc.)
 
As can be seen from the attached graphic, taken today from Rightmove, all of our clients’ homes are achieving a minimum of 10% more interest on Rightmove than similar properties advertised with our competitors.
 
“Where your home is number one not one of a number”
01326 561561 | 01736 339143

3 Things your agent might not be telling you about your Rightmove(tm) report.

 

Rightmove admin report.png

If you are selling your home with an estate agent who advertises with Rightmove, the chances are, you may receive a report like the one to the left here. (If you haven’t, it may be time to change agents)

These reports can be a useful tool for good agents to advise clients on property interest, identify problems and develop new marketing strategies if required.

Many agents, however, just send them out to clients with no explanation or follow up call to explain what each of these lines and number actually means. At PDQ, these charts, along with other useful information, gets fed back to all of our clients once every week when we make our weekly progress and review calls.

  1. “Does a drop in interest mean I’m less likely to sell?” – Not necessarily. The golden fortnight is the first two weeks of marketing will give a good indication of whether a home is likely to sell with your current marketing plan. However, as long as the ‘property views’ line is at or above the line for the ‘similar properties’ (homes like yours on with other agents on Rightmove) it suggests that your home has a certain something that makes it special. This may be price, good photographs, a good description or a combination of factors.
  2. “My home is below the line for branch average, does this mean the agent is doing a better job for other home-owners on their books?” If your home is below the branch average, it may just mean that the other properties are of a more popular/ sought after type than yours (e.g. there may be nothing wrong with your home but the agents other properties may have a real ‘wow’ factor that means more people click on them). However, it may also mean that a review of your properties photographs and description might be in order (e.g. did your home receive a Friday afternoon write-up, with the photos taken by the board man?).
  3. “My home is receiving incredible interest, way above average, but no one is viewing? I don’t understand!” A nice problem to have but it spells trouble. If a home is receiving lots of views but no one is booking viewings it almost always means one of two problems – The property is overpriced – the agent isn’t converting enquiries into viewings (possibly a combination of both of these issues). People usually have a written or mental ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ pile when house hunting. If a property looks gorgeous but people aren’t booking viewings or asking for more information, it suggests that they are clicking through to look at the property (triggering the data spike on Rightmove) but then discarding the property into the no or maybe pile. Why? It looks great but, when they look at the property in more detail, there is a mismatch between how the property is described, its size, location and/ or its price. In blunt terms, it doesn’t represent value for money. However the problem may be that your agent is receiving email and phone enquiries but is failing to convert these to viewings, either because they are failing to contact the interested buyer back or, are somehow managing to put them off when they do call. If you suspect that your agent isn’t converting leads, you may wish to ask a good friend to secret shop the agent posing as a potential buyer using the Rightmove link and, also, a phone call to the office.

A good agent will always talk through issues or perceived problems with you honestly and should be like your best friend who tells you what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want to hear.

If the agent is at fault, a good one will own up, apologise and work to find a solution. If the problem is with the property or its pricing, they will work with you to find a solution that will help your home sell at the best price it is likely to in the current property market. Most homes that sell, find their buyer within the first couple of weeks. That is not to say that they all sell within that fortnight but that is when the peak activity is likely to be.

See also:

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