Poor communication tops poll of gripes against estate agents

Article date: 25 February 2008

  • Norwich Union launches pilot to make it easier for home movers

A lack of communication, being tied to one agent and uncertainty about valuations are amongst the most common complaints against estate agents, according to new research from Norwich Union.

In a survey of more than 1,000 UK residents either moving or considering moving house, minimal communication from estate agents and not receiving regular progress updates were the main bugbears for more than half the population (53%).

Other popular concerns include the fear of limited marketing by being restricted to one agent (46%) and being unsure of whether an agent's valuation is fair or simply intended for a quick sale (44%).

The research was carried out as part of Norwich Union's development of a new range of home-moving packages designed to help older people take the hassle out of relocating and downsizing. The scheme, due to be piloted in the West Midlands beginning this week, offers over-55s two options to ease the moving process: an "Assisted Move" package where Norwich Union manages all aspects of the house sale, or an "Optional Fund Release" service which would see the company organise a speedy purchase for the customer.*

Customers would also benefit from complete independence from any one agent to ensure they received a detailed and accurate valuation of their property.

Anthony Rafferty, head of marketing, post retirement for Norwich Union says: "Our research shows that many older people like the idea of downsizing to a property of lesser value, but two thirds are put off by the stress and hassle it entails.

"People are particularly concerned about the prospect of using an estate agent to help sell their property, either because they are unsure about who to use, uncertain of their selling capabilities or confused about what's included in the estate agency package.

"Our latest home-mover services are designed to help take the stress out of selling by offering two quick, straightforward ways of freeing up cash without the need to be restricted to one agent. This means people will be offered simple solutions to relocate to the right type of home to suit their needs."

The survey also investigated general worries regarding relocating. The top 10 niggles were revealed as:

  1. Fear of deal falling through at the last minute
  2. Being in a chain and having to wait for others to sell / move
  3. Paperwork involved eg HIPS, estate agent / solicitor forms etc
  4. General slowness of moving process
  5. Overall stress of moving house
  6. Not being kept up-to-date by solicitors / estate agents etc
  7. Time-wasters viewing current home
  8. Packing / physically moving house contents
  9. Emotional ties of moving home
  10. Keeping home clean and tidy for viewings

Anthony Rafferty adds: "On the open market, it currently takes around four to eight** months for people sell their house and around 900,000** UK homeowners fail to sell their properties each year, so it's understandable why some people might get stressed at the prospect of moving.

"Our research found that people aged 55 upwards were generally more likely to have concerns about moving than any other age group, so we want to offer as much support in this area as possible. Through our new schemes it is estimated customers would be able to receive their funds in as little as four weeks***, so we would hope that for these people home-move headaches will be a thing of the past."


Press office contacts:

Norwich Union
Sarah Horner 01904 452828 Out of hours 07800 691569

Notes to editors:

The home-move scheme is being piloted in the West Midlands area and will run for six months initially. Downsizing options will be offered in conjunction with leading property specialist Move With Us. This will allow valuations to be based on selection of two of the best local selling agents and Norwich Union's own internal valuation team. Clients may also recommend their own agents as part of the scheme.

* The house purchase scheme is carried out through a partnership with property specialists movewithus. movewithus is responsible for financing the house purchase and the estate agency function of the scheme.

** Source for both statistics: theadvisory.co.uk

*** Estimated timings: 12 weeks through the Assisted Move option, or around four weeks via the Optional Fund Release route.

About Norwich Union:

Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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