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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agency using hub-style Market Centres now has 130 UK agents

Keller Williams, the US agency which allows agents to work from hub-like ‘market centres’, says it now has 130 freelance agents in this country following a dramatic recruitment of 20 individuals during October alone.

The famous US agency, which launched in the UK back in late 2014, now has four market centres - two in London, one in Leeds and one in Glasgow - which serve as bases for co-working office space, training and mentoring; agents can, alternatively, use their homes as bases. 

There is now a plan to open a fifth centre at Bromley in Kent, to be run by the agency’s new chief operating officer, Andrew Benn, who has 30 years' experience in agency and has just joined the firm from Spicerhaart.

“There’s no better way to understand the business than running a market centre - it may be unusual for a chief operating officer but it’s the right way to do things” explains Benn in an interview with Estate Agent Today. 

He says the roles of COO and market centre chief are “very much aligned” and adds: “As a result I can talk with credibility about our way of doing things, which is based on allowing our agents to do a great job.”

Despite coming most recently from a company with a more traditional approach to agency branches, Benn is an enthusiastic advocate of market centres, and of similar hubs being introduced in London by rival firms such as Harding Green and Agent & Homes.

“We think we’ve got a robust model for all markets. We haven’t got traditional offices but we have a traditional set of values in some ways. Our philosophy is that agents add the most value to all aspects of a transaction, whereas for example the online or hybrid model believes it’s the computer that adds the most value” he says.

“We’re not anti-High Street but we’re very pro-agent. Our values are agents’ values - they can work flexibly, they can operate as they wish. We don’t lose the value of good agents because for some reason they can’t work strictly to traditional office hours and can’t be sitting in old-school branches” insists Benn.

He says Keller Williams has a new programme - called Initiate - which allows agents who may be wary of setting up their own business to have a better understanding of the administration involved in self-employment, and can even provide some business finance. This could, for example, take the form of payments up-front to ease the transition of an agent from being employed to self-employed.

Benn says new market centres do not to rely wholly or largely on advertising to generate stock, but to rely instead on more traditional word of mouth and recommendations. 

“It’s a case of doing something well - the first transactions - and then getting people to spread the word” he says.

  • Simon Shinerock

    The difficulty I see with this model is the low commissions we charge in the UK, I think it will be hard for these hub agents to achieve the turnover they need, some will have the ability but I question whether it can be as main stream an approach here as it has become in other markets. Re-Max has Centuary 21 have failed to establish strongly here, we will see if Keller Williams can break the mould.

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    Simon....Perhaps the agents should work for themselves(not a central hub) at home...sounds like a good Idea wouldn't you say?....

  • Valentine Parvu

    I think the KW model is a great addition to the UK market.Not only that the agents can have the freedom to choose their own environment in which to thrive and at the same time they are backed by tens of years of expertise,the best training in the world and also they have a connection to international markets which most of the agencies here in the UK lack.

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    They say, if you cant say anything positive dont say anything at all, so I apologise in advance....

    I'm all up for agents working for themselves and well done to those agents that have stepped up and chosen to do so with KW....

    but there is just something that makes me yawn whenever I see a statement from KW.

    Is it a dull soulless brand?... or classic American "bigger must be better" attitude?

    Or just a case of all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas?

    Good luck to the agents never the less.

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