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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agency chain admits "very limited take-up" of online sales option

Franchise giant Martin & Co says there has been “very limited take-up” of a no frills estate agency service that it launched a year ago - and that vendors seem to prefer “the traditional service.”

In the annual review of chief executive Ian Wilson, he says that Martin & Co has successfully moved from its pre-2012 branding as a lettings specialist and was now expanding in the sales sector, increasing the number of homes it listed for sale in the past 12 months against the market trend.

However, Wilson then says: Since Martin & Co launched a “no frills” online estate agency service in September 2014 there has been very limited take-up with less than five per cent of listings and one per cent of estate agency revenue generated from this source. Prospective vendors given a choice between a traditional, no-sale no-fee commission-based estate service, and an upfront fixed fee “no frills” online service appear to continue to prefer the traditional service.

Martin & Co offices increased the number of properties being listed for sale - 3,079 in the first half of 2015 compared to 2,161 in H1 2014 and 1,060 in H1 2013. 

Its financial report shows Martin & Co now having 284 trading offices - up from 193 a year ago, mainly thanks to acquisitions - with another seven preparing to open.

Revenue increased by 48 per cent to £3.4m and interim dividend increased by 38 per cent. 

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    Hmmm indeed. As a traditional independent I valued a house a year ago for a lady in residence, getting divorced. I gave her some good advice on things she could do to get it sold. She went to market using this basic, up front fee service from Martin & Co and I am as sure as I can be that she did so as she did not want the property sold, but did want to indicate to her ex (not in residence) that she was trying.
    After a year of this a P/Ex company approached myself and a local high street agent asking us to go joint. I reported back that it was so poorly presented as to not be in a fit state to seriously offer for sale. The seller made a few basic improvements but it was still rough. Despite this we had one viewer book a second viewing which the client disallowed, and she then disallowed the next 2 viewing requests. We, the P/Ex company and the other agent disinstructed ourselves.
    She is back on the market with Martin & Co, using a picture of her kitchen table as the main image ... and its an attractive enough house.
    Its fine for Martin & Co, they are paid in advance under this system. It leaves the rest of us, including the viewers and doubtless the lady's ex all out of pocket.
    I wonder how many other homes are 'on the market' using such an online cheapie system ... in this case where martin & Co simply pass the clients phone number to prospective viewers and then step back ... where the vendor is sitting pretty and has no intention of selling? Prospective buyer beware!

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