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Countrywide-owned agency moves to 'premises-free business model'

An estate agency owned by Countrywide has relaunched with what it calls “an innovative, premises-free business model that seeks to redefine the role of estate agency” - or as an online agency, as it is more commonly known. 

Urban Spaces has announced the move with a media statement claiming its move comes after “a large customer engagement process, with more than 3,500 people interviewed by the firm to uncover customers’ attitudes towards the estate agency sector.”

According to the statement, the research “revealed that a significant part of the consumer market do not regard branch access as a necessary part of estate agency service.” 

Instead, it claims, the public wants “honesty, transparency, and a positive, memorable experience.”

The new business model espoused by Urban Spaces, which operates in London, looks similar to some existing hybrid agencies including Purplebricks. 

It offers customers “access to online resources as well as dedicated account managers acting as a single point of contact” in a strategy which “combines the best of online resources and physical services, enabling an intimate customer service that is flexible and customisable to clients’ needs.”

Amongst the online resources will be portals available for landlords, vendors and tenants, providing access to relevant documents. 

“Account managers are armed with in-depth market analysis tools, complementing a wealth of area-targeted knowledge. This enables staff to ‘own’ their territory, give informed advice and make personalised recommendations” it says. 

Urban Spaces - which is a subsidiary of Countrywide, which is experimenting with online and hybrid models on three other major brands - operates chiefly in Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Hackney, Clapham, Battersea and Canary Wharf. 

“We listened to our customers and are tearing up the estate agency rule book to offer a dynamic, memorable service that suits modern buyers and sellers’ needs” says Simon Charnock, director of Urban Spaces. 

“The outcome is a memorable customer service experience that supports Urban Spaces’ goal to offer more than just traditional estate agency services. We get beneath the skin of London and use our area-based knowledge to provide recommendations that truly suit customers’ lifestyle aspirations as well as their property needs.”

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    So, now that Countrywide has found out what people really want I expect they will be closing down all their other bricks and mortar estate agent offices?

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    Love how they are calling themselves a 'premises-free business model' rather than an online agent. Similar to eMoov now calling themselves a hybrid because it's more fashionable.

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    Premises free = a table under the third tree on the right in Hyde Park. (Marble Arch entrance)

  • Trevor Mealham

    High Street offices do carry a presence in the community value.

    Its when Mary or Gill visit the coffee shop or hairdresser or 'other' weekly or pass through to the school 5 times a week. A name board seen 50 plus times a year over x years is a great brand reminder for when people think they need a valuation.

    People when not selling don't see agents on the web weekly.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    US have almost always operated on this basis with an office above the (former parent co) Greene & Co. Many agents using leading software can offer most if not all of what US are discussing- we have done so for a couple of years now. I find it interesting that agents get press for this as being 'revolutionary' largely because of their corporate affiliations when many of us innovative independents lose out because we dont have a big PR budget. Oh well.

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