An agent in the Guild is launching a ‘hub’ style operation from December 1 and says the concept of traditional estate agency branches “is a little bit boring”.
Benjamin Stevens has two traditional branches in Edgware, London, and Bushey, Hertfordshire: currently he is testing the hub concept in offices upstairs from his Edgware branch, with agents working on sales and lettings in three nearby areas.
“It’s separate but together” he told Estate Agent Today in an interview over the weekend. However, he plans to open the first true hub in Luton in six weeks time; it will take the form of a 2,000 square foot office space.
Stevens, who started his business 15 years ago when he was 22, says he spoke about the next move for his business with Keller Williams UK, which operates a number of Market Centres for agents - similar hub-style serviced units which work as flexible areas for agents to base themselves.
Stevens also revealed that he had considered an easyProperty licence, through his Guild connections, “but it didn’t work for me.” Likewise, although he is still a Guild member, he says of that organisation's Park Lane office in central London: "No one cares about that stuff anymore."
He says each hub - he plans to roll out a number of them, possibly nationwide - could cover a radius of up to 20 miles depending on population and market conditions.
He anticipates relatively high commission of 1.5 per cent plus VAT, as he charges now, accompanied by what he calls "old school service" for vendors.
The Benjamin Stevens experiment is also looking for possible franchisees too, who want to - in Stevens’ words - “build their own business within our brand.”
This would allow them to become a business partner and go 50:50 on earnings. “If that doesn’t work for you or for us, the other can walk away” he says.
Hubs have become increasingly popular concepts in recent months.
Humberts, Keller Williams and London-focussed agency Harding Green all operate similar principles.