Flyers through your door...What's the story?
Can estate agents’ flyers be considered harassment?
According to the Property Ombudsman, an agent should not seek business by methods which could be considered deceitful, dishonest or harassing to a potential client. This is especially true if the person is old, infirm, has a poor grasp of english and so on.
Over the years, agents have all used canvassing flyers, leaflets and letters through your door to encourage you to sell your property with them. It was the flyer, made to look like a business card on one side and with fake ‘handwriting’ on the other, which caused me to write today’s column. A naive homeowner could see this card as more than a flyer, but a personal message from the agent, a ‘call to action’, causing you to pick up the phone and, within a few short hours, your property could be actively on the market for sale. You may have been thinking about selling but not intent on doing anything about it and this unusual card may have precipitated you into action by your misunderstanding that it is not personal to you, but a ‘clever’ flyer. Does it constitute harassment or misleading or deceitful practice?
It is a hard one to prove and no doubt the agent concerned has run the card by their legal department and it has the green light. As such, it is unlikely the Ombudsman would do anything but it is surely getting close to deceitful. So, how far would an agent go to get your property on their books?
I posted a query about this type of business card flyer on a couple of local FaceBook community pages. The response has been 100% that the public hates flyers so why do agents use them as they can create more antipathy than is there already? I’m sure it’s just the fact that if, on the day you are thinking of going on the market or even just getting a valuation, a flyer has just landed on your doormat, you may be tempted to call that agent...as simple as that.
Of course, what you get once the agent is through your door, is a whole other ballgame. Many agents now employ people who are just ‘valuers’. They’re job is to get the property on their firm’s books to sell by whatever legal means. Of course, they are expert at that and will use every ruse in the salesperson’s armoury to get that signature off you. They will have a contract for you to sign at the property so they walk out, not just with a valuation but with a property to sell on a sole agency. It is only afterwards that some people think: “Oh, I was going to use the other agent but they didn’t ‘force’ me to sign”. You, as a customer, have a cooling off period so if you feel you have been ‘pushed’ to sign up with an agent and, on second thoughts, you wanted to take your business elsewhere, you can, so long as you tell that agent within the 14 day cooling off period. It may be embarrassing but being stuck with the wrong firm for a few months could be worse.
Like all major decisions, take your time, don’t just go with the latest flyer as that may not be what you ultimately want.
Paul Bonett F.N.A.E.A. M.A.R.L.A.