An agency that offers both traditional and online sales and lettings services to clients has opened a new office - in a cafe.
UrPad, which has two offices in Bristol, has opened a third in the Route 2 cafe in Topsham, an estuary town on the edge of Exeter in Devon.
“It’s always been an ambition of mine to have a branch in a cafe” says UrPad proprietor Ian Clark, who has been an estate agent for some 30 years.
"In addition to my clients coming to the office and benefitting the cafe, we have a video running continuously in the main part of the cafe so customers wanting a coffee or lunch come up to see what’s happening - it generates interest both ways” he says.
The online services start with an upfront fee of £299 including VAT, which involves the agency putting vendors’ properties on Rightmove and Zoopla but leaving the vendor to handle viewings. Alternatively for £350 upfront, and another £350 on completion, UrPad agents will handle the viewings for clients.
Meanwhile if vendors want traditional agency services, those are on offer too for a commission of 0.5 to 1.0 per cent, depending on asking price.
Topsham and nearby areas are relatively high-priced and amongst early instructions won by the new office is a Sidmouth property valued at £1.2m - it is on sale through the traditional commission-instruction route.
“Many of the younger clients get the online idea and are happy to handle viewings - less so the older clients” says Clark.
Now the firm wants to offer franchise opportunities to agents elsewhere, including one expected to set up an office in a barbers’ shop. Clark is also in discussion with Royal Marine veterans to set up another franchise branch.
“This idea is also perfect for people like working mums. Some of the work can be done flexibly but a lot of the time required is actually early in the evening” he explains.
“We put a huge premium on personal contact, despite some of the work being online. So between 5pm and 8pm we’re on the telephone, to almost every client every day, giving them feedback from viewings or reassuring them there’s interest in a property” says Clark.