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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Hybrid estate agency to 'pop-up' in an interiors shop

A company that describes itself as a hybrid between a traditional and an online estate agency is opening a new branch next month - in an interiors shop.

Mr & Mrs Clarke, a sales and lettings agency in Warwickshire, is opening the pop-up in Leamington Spa in the new year; it will operate for three months.

“We’ve been running a hybrid estate agency for 18 months and are looking to expand. We don’t want to open a big flash office on estate agents corner of the High Street because one of our main USPs is that our fees are lower than traditional agencies” Paul Clarke, one of the owners, has told Estate Agent Today. 

“So we’re teaming up with an interiors shop and launching a pop-up estate agency. It will give us exposure and create a buzz. We’re starting in Leamington Spa and have plans to pop up across the country in 2016 and 2017” he says.

He says he backs recent statements by Countrywide, Britain’s largest estate and selling agency group, that hybrid agencies may hold the future to the industry. “Hybrid estate agencies are modern firms, who are real people with local property expertise, who do everything a traditional agent does but often charge lower fees, but don’t have the High Street office” he says.

Mr & Mrs Clarke currently has its main office in a rural location. “People don’t see us on the High Street and presume that we are an online agent. We’re therefore launching a pop up in Leamington Spa from January 4 for three months.”

The pop-up will be in Thrills Of The Emporium, an interiors store run by Eleni Bradshaw. “I know a lot of people who don’t like estate agents and I worried about their reputation. But the Mr & Mrs Clarke team are very different, they don’t wear suits and they’re really nice” she says. 

Estate Agent Today recently covered an estate agency opening a branch in a Devon cafe, and Countrywide’s forecasts of growing numbers of hybrid agencies.

  • Steven Thompson

    I think that hybrid is the future. Local expertise with online reach is the way to go. The future of estate agency looks like using the vendors social media reach to promote a property that has been brought to market by an expert in marketing and the local market.

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    Are you not describing a High Street agent?

    All High Street Agents are online, most if not all have several social media accounts not only that they have a local office with local property professionals.

    The only saving an online or hybrid has is on staff.

    Pay peanuts .......

     
    Algarve  Investor

    I agree, Smile Please. Many high street agents already have most, if not all, of the elements that online agents say make them unique. But not all traditional agents. Some still don't embrace social media, some still haven't embraced the portals, some still have websites that look like they've come direct from the late 80s. Have you seen the websites of certain small and medium size agencies? They are, in some cases, an assault on the eyes.

    As more and more people head online to search for and sell property, there is a chance that these agencies who don't buy into the new-fangled ways of doing things will die out.

    Do you also not believe there is a place for both in the market? If high street agents are so sure that the online model is a load of rubbish, why do they get so defensive about them? That's what I never understand. If there's no threat, why all the shouting?

    And the idea that because online agents are cheap their service must be rubbish just sounds like snobbery on your part. Because a high street agent charges more doesn't mean they automatically offer a superior service. There are high street agents out there who offer a shoddy service, while there are online agents who offer a very good one.

    To use the analogy of a restaurant. You can go to a really basic, unflashy and authentic place and the service and food could be amazing, but you only pay peanuts. There are plenty of these in Portugal, for example. By the same token, you could go somewhere really upmarket and poncey and pay an arm and a leg for poor food and service.

    It's the same with agencies. A high street agent might charge you high fees and offer a really poor service, while an online agent can charge £595 and provide a brilliant, professional and efficient one.

     
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    I think you will be hard pushed to find a UK agent that does not advertise on portals and have very dated websites. The majority are very good indeed.

    Yes there is a place for both in the market, but the reason I and others are so shouty as you put it is because they basically lie. The say they save thousands because they do not have an expensive high street office. Well not sure the last time you looked at a commercial rent of a high street office compared to that of a serviced office but they are basically the same. They also lie and say they offer a like for like service which they do not.

    Online agents seem to have got this reputation for being innovative. Can you give me just 1 example of something any of them have implemented that has been a true success? - Only thing they are doing is changing estate agency into listers for portals.

     
    Algarve  Investor

    We must be looking at different websites. Granted, they tend to be smaller, one or two office operations that probably don't have great wads of cash to throw at glossy websites, but nonetheless there are some horrors out there.

    Maybe we have different definitions of what makes a great website, but there are ones out that are eyesores at best. That's not to say that online agents always get it right - some websites for online agents are equally terrible, which means their USP has kind of gone down the pan before they've begun - but away from those agencies who really plough the money in, there are plenty who have sites that are doing them more harm than good.

    I can't think of any massive innovations off the top of my head. As I've said, I'm no advocate for online agents. I think hybrid is the best way forward. But I don't think the entire model should be written off quite so casually. They can't all be terrible, surely? That just doesn't stand up. Purplebricks, whatever you think of them (and their ads really get on my nerves), are clearly doing something right. eMoov, Tepilo, House Simple. You could argue about how much success they actually have, but they are certainly names people will have heard of.

    As I said, I also can't get on board with the implication that traditional = good, while online = bad. You seem like you've been in the industry for a while, surely you've seen agents who are good, brilliant, bad and indifferent? They can't all be wonderful, surely?

     
  • Algarve  Investor

    Interesting idea. Not sure it will catch on, but I admire their ambition and bravery in trying something a bit different.

    I also agree that hybrid is the way forward, but many agencies already do this, with smart, glossy websites, a significant presence on the portals and social media, and in many cases a dedicated online strategy. Traditional agents, for the most part, have embraced the online model.

    There is still going to be this argument about fees. Traditional agents will say they justify the commission they charge with the amount of work they do get a home sold. Online agents will say all this can be done for much, much less. As long as quality isn't diminished, there is a place in the market for both. And, at the end of the day, the consumer will decide.

    It seems like both models are thriving at the moment, so neither looks like dying out anytime soon. Until we all start selling our homes via other means, that is!

  • Trevor Mealham

    What a great argument for MLS - virtual agents wanting Hg St presence but on an adlib basis.

    Will all those online only agents who may be on all the portals or some, like to link with Hg St agents who may be on just 1 main portal like to collaborate. You'd both gain more stock via B2B and the other may have buyers or tenants for you if you have stock they don't to facilitate to their enquiries on properties they wouldn't have had :-)

    Now, how many OTM agents only on RM or Z want to have INEA as their one other portal to reach enquiries from places OTM doesn't want them reaching :-)

    Im very easy to find on linkedin :-)

  • Ellie Rees

    It has already caught on! My partner and I established our very own hybrid (even before these guys) which Graham wrote about in the first few, fledgling months... www.brickworkslondon.com which has seen great success in London and now beyond. It's not just that hybrid is the future, it's that there's a new wave of agencies in terms of attitude, politics, level of customer service and the quality of the overall marketing material, which will I'm afraid blow the online, lowest common denominator out of the water, but also shows the old school business model to be borderline obsolete. People have had enough, and the industry is in a state of disruption flux, which is a pretty good thing imho.

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