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Agency with office but no shopfront insists "we're not an onliner"

A firm called Proper Local has launched, insisting it is offering “a new model” for estate agency, somewhere between a traditional high street offering and an online alternative. 

The company, based in London’s Canary Wharf and handling only properties for sale and to let in the London E14 postcode, is led by Christian Thomas, an estate agent for the past 10 years and the former MyLondonHome sales and marketing director. 

The firm’s office is located next to the Canary Wharf station, but it is exactly that - an office - and not a traditional shopfront. 

Proper Local’s publicity makes much play of its enthusiasm for, and desire to play a part in, the increasingly digital transformation of estate agency. 

“We all know that the world has changed massively over the last few years. We have moved into an increasingly digital world, an online world, and we all know that estate agency is starting to change - and we want to be part of that change” says the firm’s website.

And in The Wharf local newspaper in the E14 area, Thomas is quoted: “PurpleBricks, eMoov and others like them have changed the conversation but I think they’ve only started becoming a threat to the high street within the last two or three years. What they offer is compelling – they market your property and take a much lower fee than a traditional estate agency because they save lots of money on staffing and shop front premises."

However, Thomas distances his firm from these online newcomers saying that it is an office-based agency. But he says there is no shop front, and on the company’s website it says: “We don’t need one, and nor do you. Sure you can’t look in our window (unless you’ve got a very tall ladder) but you can still pop in for a coffee.”

The agency also accuses traditional firms of over-complicating the business of selling and letting homes, saying that Proper Local will give customers “No lies. No over-pricing to get your instruction. No under-pricing to make our lives easier. No unreturned phone calls or emails. No missed appointments. No lateness. No waffle.”

You can see the firm’s website here.

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    When will people realise that consumers don't care about online vs traditional? This is just an industry spat that has no relevance to them. All they care about is the service they're going to receive and how much it's going to cost. Writing about the digital transformation of estate agency on your website is hardly going to impress/attract vendors.

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    Another one who wants to open an estate agents office on the cheap. One day the public will realise that these "cheap" agents actually cost more because they are not geared up to get the vendor the best possible price. Yes, I saved £5,000 on agents fees but I sold it for £15,000 less.

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    I agree that some people are making things over complicated. There is no difference in working from home or a third floor office without a window (which many agents did half a century or more ago, as did solicitors) as long a they are doing the business and people can meet the agent face to face if necessary. More of a con is firms which pretend to have multiple offices where some of those offices are shut most of the time and are simply being used as window displays.

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