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Daily Archives: February 25, 2020

Social Media: Agent sells home off-market via Instagram teaser images

Social Media: Agent sells home off-market via Instagram teaser images

An estate agent has sold a home off-market by posting teaser photographs on Instagram.

The buyer – who was in the French Alps on holiday when she saw the social media posts for the property in the Warwickshire village of Lapworth – was attracted by a series of teaser photographs.

These were not of the property itself, nor even a general view of its interior, but were instead so-called ‘teaser shots’ – in this case, the first images were of goldfish in an antique watering can sitting on wooden decking. The caption said the photos were from a property going on sale soon in Lapworth.

The buyer has told local media that it was these posts that triggered her interest; she has now completed on the property.

“I liked their pictures and I follow hashtags like #victorianterrace and #darkdecor. I’d also started following the #Lapworth hashtag too as I knew that was the village we wanted to be in. I wasn’t desperate to move but it felt too good an opportunity to miss. The post on Instagram for me was the deciding factor” she says.

The agency behind the Instagram posts is Mr and Mrs Clarke – a hybrid with the business model of using self-employed or freelance agents operating under the same brand. It’s six years old and has featured frequently on Estate Agent Today, most recently here.

Paul Clarke, the agency’s founder, says 50 per cent of the houses which are pictured on Instagram attract enquires.

He’s told Birmingham  Live: “Agents have done this sort of off-market selling for ages but through databases and email lists. With Instagram, you can make it more aesthetically pleasing and interesting.

“There was a picture we put on Instagram that featured a cockapoo running through a living room. Within hours, a lady in her early seventies had sent a message. She viewed it and offered the asking price before the house hit the market.”

Amongst the tips he has suggested for publicising homes for sale via Instagram is to use hashtags.

“People follow hashtags and you can create a buzz around a picture by using relevant and popular hashtags. It might be a roaring fire in the winter, some flowers popping out of the ground in spring or it could be an architectural feature of the home. For these images use useful, descriptive hashtags like #springgarden #featurefireplace #interiordesign.”

And he urges the photographs to be taken and selected with a view to making prospective buyers smile. He suggests: “Homes are places to be enjoyed and Instagram is a great place to share light hearted moments. If something about your home brings a smile to your face then it’s likely to do the same for your viewer, so have fun with it. You’re more likely to get engagement with something that draws a smile.”

Agents asked to confess if their firm has been price-fixing

Agents asked to confess if their firm has been price-fixing

A new call has been issued this morning by the Competition and Markets Authority for estate agents to confess if their business has been involved in a price fixing cartel.

In a statement released this morning the CMA says: “If you think your business has been involved in illegal activity, you should notify the CMA as soon as possible – you may benefit from lenient treatment by being the first to come forward to the CMA.

“We also recommend that you seek independent, legal advice.

“If you have information on other companies in your industry that may have been involved in an anti-competitive arrangement, report it to us.”

The CMA’s announcement this morning makes the call after expressing concern that there have been three cartel issues in the estate agency industry in recent years.

The latest was in December 2019 when four estate agents were found to have broken competition law by agreeing to fix and maintain a minimum level of commission fees to be charged for the sale of residential properties over a period of almost seven years.

The agents were fined a total of £605,519.

This morning’s statement from the CMA says: “Competition law exists to ensure businesses compete fairly and customers are protected from getting ripped off. Price fixing cartels are among the most serious kinds of anti-competitive behaviour as they cheat customers by forcing up prices and reducing quality and choice.”

And referring to the most recent case it says: ”By fixing minimum levels of commission rates, the estate agents denied local people selling their homes the chance of getting the best possible deal.”

And the statement goes on to issue advice to agents, saying:

– Do not discuss what you or your competitors intend to charge;

– Just receiving or sharing sensitive commercial information is likely to be illegal;

– Make it very clear you will not participate in illegal arrangements or discussions about them and take active steps to distance yourself from the outset;

– All anti-competitive arrangements – written or verbal, formal or informal – are equally illegal, and the CMA has sophisticated means of tracking down evidence;

– There are no excuses for illegal anti-competitive activity – ignorance of the law is not one either;

– If two competitors participate in an anti-competitive arrangement, this is sufficient to make it illegal – it doesn’t matter if not all competitors in the market participate;

– If you are a small business competition law still applies to you.