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Independent estate agent challenged over speed-of-sale claims

Surrey agency Curchods, which recently blamed staff reductions on Brexit, agrees to withdraw some of its marketing material following an ASA investigation.

Nigel Lewis

Independent estate agent Curchods has got into hot water with the advertising watchdog over two direct mailshots it sent out recently.

In both the mailshots the company, which has its headquarters in West Horsley and operates 21 branches across Surrey, made claims about how fast it could sell properties and exchange contracts, and also the total value of its property sales over the past 12 months.

But a single complainant – presumably a local competitor – challenged whether theses claims could be substantiated, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) approached Curchods – which is owned by parent company Simpsons Estate Agents Ltd – to investigate.

Curchods, which is one of Surrey’s oldest estate agent brands with a history stretching back 75 years, agreed to withdraw the marketing material containing the claims about average speed of contract exchange.

Also, the company agreed to insert qualifications into other material about the number of sales per hour it achieves and was able to prove to the ASA the number of sales it had made over the past year.

On this basis, the ASA says the complaint was informally resolved.

Brexit worries

Curchods’ parent company Simpson Estate Agents bought the sales operation of local firm Curchods & Co – which still exists today – during the 1980s and then built the new business up, adding acquisitions and opening new branches. It also recently recruited a former senior London Countrywide executive – Michael Ansell- to be its new Managing Director.

But Simpsons is one of the few agents in the UK to have publicly revealed it has scaled back staff and operating costs because of a sales drop prompted, it says, by local Brexit worries.

In its most recent accounts the firm says it has had to reduced costs by £1.2 million because of a “reduction in turnover” which “reflects the difficult and subdued market conditions post-Brexit with uncertainty affecting confidence particularly in the upper end of the market”.

December 15, 2017

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