A few weeks ago, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) launched its latest annual report at the House of Lords, revealing a rise in the number of formal complaints resolved by the redress scheme as well as a record total of compensatory awards paid by estate and letting agents.
Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle, who took on the role in November 2015, said that the number of complex complaints reviewed by TPO increased by 7.5% to 3,553. What’s more, the number of sales and letting agents joining the scheme rose by 6.1% and 7% respectively.
The report also revealed that 14,218 enquires were made from consumers to TPO, seeking advice on a range of property issues. Meanwhile, the overall number of awards TPO instructed agents to pay was more than £1 million for the first time (standing at £1.2 million, a significant 51% rise from 2015).
Breaking the report down into sales and lettings, the headline figures offer some interesting insights...
With regards to sales, 1,310 formal complaints were resolved (up by 7% on the year before), with 61% of complaints made by sellers and 35% made by buyers. The complaints, 73% of which were supported by the Ombudsman, were at their highest in the South East (25%), followed by the South West (13%) and Greater London (12%). The main four causes of complaint were as follows: ‘Communication & record keeping’, ‘Marketing & advertising’, ‘Instructions/terms of business/commission/termination’ and ‘In-house complaints handling’.
As for lettings, 1,997 formal complaints were resolved (up by 1.6% on the year before), with 51% made by tenants and 45% by landlords. Of these, 76% were supported by the Ombudsman. Regionally speaking, the highest volume of complaints were from Greater London (25%), closely followed by the South East (23%). The North West was in third place with 10% of all lettings complaints deriving from this region. ‘Management’, ‘Communication & record keeping’, ‘In-house complaints procedure’ and ‘Referencing’ were outlined as the top four causes of complaints.
TPO, which works with the industry and consumers to “get things right, put things right and set things right”, now has 38,017 offices and departments following its Codes of Practice, which it says demonstrates the commitment of agents to raising standards and offering a better and more complete service to their customers.
The number of sales and lettings agents joining the scheme in the last year is a good indicator that more agents than ever are looking to raise the standards of agency across the board, in turn offering an excellent, comprehensive service to customers.
When it comes to offering such a service, it helps if your processes are streamlined and you can spend less time worrying about the nitty-gritty of running an agency and more on your existing and prospective clients.
At Gnomen this is something we can provide, with our all-in-one cloud-based software allowing you to manage all aspects of your business – your staff, your office, your customers and your marketing strategy – at the click of a button, from anywhere in the world.
The software is designed so that everything works in complete harmony, allowing you to manage your workload and team effortlessly online. You can also keep customers happy, engaged and informed with regular updates and communication, and use integrated messaging and social media to share more and increase awareness of your agency.
The ability to access your business from any device, at any time, from anywhere in the globe, is vital in a 24-hour, digital, increasingly switched-on world. It’ll help you keep on top of your call-backs, your diary, your valuations and your instructions, all of which are vital in helping your business grow and keeping your customers informed.
If you keep your customers engaged, happy and in the loop, the chances of complaints being made – by landlords, tenants, sellers or buyers – are much lower. As we can see above, communication (or a lack of it) was one of the top causes of complaints, so it’s vital that you keep your clients up to date.
To ensure this is possible, our software includes tailored online login areas for every client, whether they be a landlord, tenant, seller or buyer. This allows landlords to view statements and invoices, download inspection reports and view active and past tenancies, while tenants can report maintenance issues, view their tenancy contract and make rental payments. Sellers, meanwhile, can view offers, track viewings and track sale progress, while buyers can register for SMS or email alerts (alerting them to suitable properties) and ‘favourite’ property searches.
In addition to our property software packages, we also offer an estate agent website design service, with many cutting-edge features available to ensure your site stands out from the crowd. In such a busy marketplace, it’s more important than ever that you rise above the competition, and a glossy, user-friendly, beautiful website can help you to do that.
For more information about what we do, please get in touch with us on 0208 123 9019 or book a free demo here.