A high profile agent has written a robust defence of the industry following a critical article in a business newspaper - but he says he has not been given a right of reply.
Last spring City AM published a scathing attack on letting agents, describing many of them individually as "reliably awful" and the industry as a whole of being “blinkered to the dangers, underestimating the threat posed by thriving online businesses, and millions of tenants who are fed up with paying over the odds to get little in return.”
It also claimed: “There’s a generation of renters who may not be able to afford to buy a house but … not prepared to put up with unprofessional letting agents forever.”
Kristjan Byfield, co-founder of base property specialists in east London, wrote an open letter via Letting Agent Today.
After an exchange of correspondence with the publication he thought he was being given an opportunity to pen a formal reply to the original attack.
However, he says his reply has been rejected by City AM - so instead it will appear this weekend, starting tomorrow, on the Features section of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. It’s a great read and a stirring defence of agency professionals.
The full article is a comprehensive rebuttal of the original attack and offers a comparison of agency charges worldwide - suggesting that British agents can be up to 70 per cent cheaper than their international counterparts.
Byfield also gives numerous examples of how sales and lettings agents go ‘above and beyond’ to help clients.
He details one who checked on an elderly tenant and help her with shopping; another who helped a desperate buyer get the funds required for a home with a garden - a dream of their very ill child; and of yet other agents who themselves helped move items from a rental property into storage to ensure a new tenancy was not put in jeopardy.
“I have received literally hundreds of amazing stories and testimonials of agents rescuing people when removal firms let them down, elderly family members being checked up on, properties being rescued from fire, people driven 70 miles to an airport so they didn’t miss a flight, a cat being adopted to keep a sale together, brazing snow storms to get contracts signed, house-sitting nervous pets during viewings, a 794 mile round trip to correct a sales board…..do we still sound lazy, greedy and self-serving?” asks Byfield in the article.
He goes on to say how the highly competitive nature of agency in Britain - between rival traditional agents, online platforms and even For Sale By Owner websites - means there is good value and innovation galore.
“This has not only led to agents adopting great service offerings other agents already offer but to also think outside the box and develop unique service and digital offerings to ensure they stand head and shoulders above their local market all to the benefit of the consumer” he adds.
To see Kristjan Byfield’s full story - the one City AM chose not to publish - please see our Features section from Saturday morning onwards.