Keller Williams, the US-originated franchise agency with three ‘market centre’ offices in the UK says it aims to expand that number to between 30 and 40 in the next five to seven years.
In an interview with Estate Agent Today, KW UK’s chairman Donald Morris says the current centres - one in Leeds and two in London, Mayfair and Victoria - operate as “professional office space” for use on occasions by around 90 current KW agents who work from home, from local offices or on the road.
Morris does not see physical branches in the traditional estate agency model as the way forward. ”Footfall into estate agency branches has dropped between seven and nine per cent over each of the past six years” he claims.
However, he also doubts whether estate agency will ever be wholly online; instead, an array of hybrid models with differing levels of online and traditional agency elements will emerge. “It’s an omni-channel business and no one knows exactly how they operate in the future. They all have a place” he says.
Morris, who became head of Keller Williams’ UK operation when it launched last year, did not come from an agency background. He says around a quarter of KW UK’s current agents came from outside the industry and future recruits will be equally mixed.
“What we’re after are entrepreneurs, but not mavericks. Some will be existing agents who perhaps want a bigger slice of the business” he says.
KW UK’s current agents have a high record of success, he says. Across both sales and lettings, he says KW achieves one instruction for every 2.4 appraisals - better, he claims, than most other agencies.
In a recent press release, Keller Williams stated 60 per cent of its enquiries come through referrals; another 25 per cent came via Rightmove and 15 per cent directly from its website. The release made no mention of OnTheMarket, which Keller Williams also uses, but Morris is a strong supporter of the new portal.
He says OTM offers highly competitive charges for member agents, is more attractive and easier to navigate and view than Rightmove and Zoopla, and is doing “an excellent job.”