An EYE reader has criticised Propertymark for allegedly not speaking up when its members get into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority.
However, Propertymark said it would not make public comment.
Marketing specialist Malcolm Barnard has called on NAEA Propertymark chief executive Mark Hayward to use the trade press to remind agents about good practice.
The two men discussed the matter by phone. But in a subsequent email to Hayward, Barnard said: “I don’t feel our conversation moved anything forward in any positive way.
“I approached NAEA Propertymark on the basis of having a shared interest in the protection of consumers.
“Whilst I am not an estate agent I would have thought my concerns regarding the activity of some NAEA Propertymark members would have met with more of a ‘listening ear’ than it did.
“You, and NAEA Propertymark, clearly feel that communication with your members is best done via your regular newsletter. Obviously this has many merits and is to be applauded.
“You should be aware though that I have spoken to two of your members today who do not recall seeing any information or reminders about good advertising practice in recent NAEA Propertymark communication.
“I still feel that some form of communication via the trade press would have bolstered the position of NAEA Propertymark and showed leadership at a time when there appears to be a great deal of negativity surrounding certain sectors of the industry.
“I was extremely interested in your assertion that you didn’t feel that the trade press was the right vehicle for communication on NAEA Propertymark matters. Particularly relevant as only yesterday the new NAEA Propertymark TV campaign was announced in the trade press.
“I was particularly struck by one of the quotes in the press release: ‘At present, consumers don’t know where to go for property advice or can’t be sure if they are dealing with a professional. Propertymark is changing this by acting as a stamp of approval for consumers when they seek property expertise.’
“Laudable comments which I support but where is the ‘public’ leadership of the industry body on matters relating to misleading advertising by some of your members?
“It could help to offer reassurance to consumers that any misleading advertising by NAEA Propertymark members is noted and dealt with by their industry body.”
In earlier correspondence, Barnard had specifically raised the cases of online agents which had had a number of complaints against them either upheld or informally resolved.
He had asked the NAEA’s regulation team if it was aware of the number of issues raised against these firms; and whether the team looked into repeated instances of ‘rule bending’.
We invited Hayward to comment.
He said: “This was a private conversation which took place over the phone.
“We have a very clear, robust and transparent process to deal with these issues internally with members. They aren’t a matter for external comment.”