Page 13 - Redbriik: Property and Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2019
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PropertyIndustryEye has reported that the share values of both Purplebricks and Countrywide are continuing to fall.
Purplebricks’ shares, which peaked at 500p in 2017, hit a low of 105p in June
this year following a slew of departures from top level staff. This is despite the increase in shareholding of over 14% by Axel Springer, the global publisher.
Shares of Countrywide, the estate and lettings agency provider, hit a low of
3.1p. This follows a difficult 15 months for the organisation, during which their share value fell by 95%. More recently, Countrywide has neither confirmed nor denied the speculation around a number of branch closures, implied by their Annual Report.
  The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has issued new guidance regarding disputes over dual fees, something which it has called “a growing issue”.
TPO defines this issue as when two agents have been instructed by a vendor and both claim a fee for its eventual sale.
In 2017 there were 32 cases relating to dual commission fees – this rose to 72 in 2018. However there have been 25 cases this year to date.
The key points of the guidance cover two scenarios which it says are the basis of most of the cases.
The first is when one agent is instructed on a Sole Agency/Sole Selling Rights basis but is then dis-instructed and a second agent instructed.
The second scenario is when both agents are operating on a multi- agency instruction.
A summary of the guidance from TPO says: “To provide clarity and certainty to both industry and consumers, there is a need to define what will constitute an effective introduction; the current lack of clarity in this area and lack of definition of introduction is at the root of the disputes. The disputes reflect
poorly on the industry and lead to consumer distress.
“TPO has taken on board feedback from agents who consider that sharing a fee allows the second agent to ‘take a punt’ and, instead of referring a sale back, continue with the sale in the hope of receiving at least part of the fee. TPO’s view
is that in dual fee cases the agent who effectively introduced the buyer should be the agent who is entitled to the fee.”
The Ombudsman’s guidelines states that if the seller signed a sole selling rights agreement, the agent must advise the seller on dis-instruction, in
writing, that a fee will be due if any party who was introduced during the sole selling rights period proceeds to exchange of contracts.
TPO says agents have a specific responsibility to ensure no consumer is put at risk of paying two fees, so has therefore outlined the obligations of the second agent upon instruction.
The guidance on this point states that: “All agents should keep full written records of all communications with both the seller and interested parties and note the advice provided and provide that evidence to TPO should a dispute arise.”
Zoopla Chief Charlie Bryant has revealed that 2,000 branches have joined Zoopla between the start of July last year and the end of April 2019.
He commented: “Some of these are new joiners and others have returned to us having left because of the ‘one other portal’ rule.” Bryant also said that Zoopla is setting out its stall as offering
both agents and the public something different. He added: “We recognise the difficult challenges being faced by agents, and we see it as our job to help them.”

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