Last week I discussed the plethora of sales boards indiscriminately displayed by some agents. Today I want to talk about ‘board wars’. This is the black hat practise of estate agents engaging in a marketing battle over sales boards through frank sabotage and ‘fly-boarding’.

When the property market is down, disreputable agents seek any means they can find to increase business. One of the more common black hat methods is ‘fly-boarding’. Fly-boarding is the practise of throwing up sales boards outside properties the agent is not under instructions by the owner to sell. The thought is that the more boards that are up, the busier the agent or agency will seem, which in turn misleads the public.

Just a few years ago, this practise was at its height, and the OFT issued numerous censures to agencies throughout the UK for engaging in such despicable marketing methods. With a slow market, whilst fly-boarding has not ended in the interim, it is sure to increase once again.

Another poor marketing practise I have seen is simple sabotage. It is not unheard of for some estate agents to take down other agents’ boards and either replace them with their own or just saw them in half and put them in the rubbish bin. Fly-boarding and sabotage are easier to get away with in multiple-family properties as residents can never be sure who is selling what.

As a reminder, the law states that 1) boards must come down within 14 days of a sale or let; and 2) an agent is allowed one board per property, measuring half a square metre. Buyers and sellers should beware of agencies that violate these rules. Be suspicious of boards tacked to trees, lampposts and situated on street corners, as these are key signs of irresponsible and irreputable agents.

For agents, this is a friendly reminder that slathering an area with sales boards can actually work against you by lowering sales prices in an area.