Are Property Awards A Sham?

This blog may cause trouble because it discusses one of the great taboos of the property business – whether some of our industry awards are fair, or just a sham.

I’m not the first to raise the issue. Another blog came up with this last week and of course there has been much controversy over this award result last month. I cannot comment on either of these specific results but the discussions around them have shown the gossip that exists just below the surface of the property industry.

The problem is not Awards per se: why shouldn’t we honour the genuinely best in class? But a few awards are almost fictitious, existing solely to elicit vainglorious entrants willing to pay award organisers handsomely for a rosette to display on ads.

Like many property writers I have been involved in award judging - most assessing estate agency businesses, new homes or developers - and many awards make every effort to be scrupulously fair. But some award schemes I steer clear of because:

• Organisers create almost wholly-bogus categories for no other reason but to encourage participants to pay hundreds of pounds in entrance fees and thousands in buying hospitality tables at the results ceremonies;

• Some categories are so fatuous – of the “Best new home with solar panels in a fetching colour” type – that they get, at best, barely enough entrants to win the “coveted” first, second and third prizes. This was common even when the property market was buoyant, and is worse still in our straitened times;

• Entrants for most awards are completely self-nominating so are based merely on the ability to pay a fee and not on being nominated by peers, clients, customers or anyone else who actually thinks an award is deserved;

• Cost-cutting means some judges no longer visit entrants, so make decisions based purely on entry documents. Some of these are prepared at great expense by PR consultants adept at making the mediocre look magnificent;

• A few organisers tell judges how much (or little) advertising is taken by entrants in publications sponsoring the awards. Why might that be, I wonder?

Let me reiterate. Some award ceremonies are conducted scrupulously with entrants properly selected and subject to genuine competition.

But some are not. And to a casual observer (let alone the public) it is impossible to differentiate between them.

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