A small estate agency is spelling out why it has taken the unusual step of scrapping its established High Street office yet has not adopted a purely online-only model.
Nick Beach, owner of Hull-based Vogue Estate Agents, says until January this year his firm occupied traditional-style High Street premises. However, this began to appear bad for his firm’s bottom line.
“We reviewed our operation and looked into the number of people who physically came to our shop to buy. The answer was pretty revealing – just one person had bought this way in the past few months. The majority of our customers identified properties of interest online and then met us at the property for a viewing rather than coming to the agency” says Beach.
But he says rather than become online-only, and recognising that “buyers still like to meet those who are responsible for the sale” he has moved into what he calls a “flexible workspace” which he uses for face-to-face discussions.
Although this is the experience of only one single-branch agency, it comes at a time when large established corporates including Countrywide, Connells and Savills are also exploring alternative models for mainstream housing market activities.
“The move away from the High Street to a more flexible workspace has enabled us to save money and work smarter. We’re saving around £15,000 per year and we are re-investing this saving into the business - increasing our marketing and generally raising awareness of the brand” says Beach.
“Because our overheads are lower we can operate with a much more streamlined portfolio of properties, giving each buyer and seller the level of care and attention that they should expect when dealing with such a big lifestyle decision” he says.