Real estate site De Particulier a Particulier (PAP.fr) has won a legal battle against the national real estate agent’s unions, the Fédération nationale de l’immobilier, better known as FNAIM.
The union claimed that PAP practiced “the illegal exercise of the activity of real estate agent without holding a professional card” and denigrated the profession. Fnaim had asked for €800,000 ($950,000) in damages.
Fnaim’s claims centered around PAP’s “Coaching Immo” service, which let users take virtual visits of properties for sale. According to Fnaim, the service was akin to the work carried out by real estate agents and therefore constituted an illegal practice of the profession.
During an interview about the product, PAP’s CEO, Corinne Jolly, was asked, “Do you want the death of real estate agencies?” to which she replied “At the price they are at today, yes. It’s too expensive.”
“We make an estimation, we carry out a virtual tour but we are very clear on our site that we are not doing a physical visit and we are not negotiating. We are not agents, we do not act in the place of the seller,” Jolly added.
The Paris Commercial Court ruled that “PAP was not guilty of acts of denigration” and that, moreover, the site “does not engage (…) in the unlawful exercise of real estate intermediary activities.” The court dismissed Fnaim’s claims for damages and ordered the organization to pay €5,000 ($5,900) to PAP.
In a statement about the case, PAP claimed it was “officially recognized as an alternative to real estate agencies, not a real estate agency”.
Fnaim said it plans to appeal the decision. “With its new service, PAP and the agencies are in the same market, and facilitate, for remuneration, the sale of real estate. (…) It’s unfair competition and they have made it a mainstay of their communication, while denigrating our regulated professionals. We deplore it and will go to the end of this procedure,” said Jean-Marc Torrolion, president of Fnaim.