Estate Agent Today can reveal that Keller Williams, the US-led firm that has 170,000 agents worldwide, is to open its fourth office in the UK.
The company already has offices - which it calls ‘market centres’ - in the centre of Leeds, London’s Mayfair and its most recent in central Glasgow.
The next office is in the London Bridge area of the capital.
As is the case with the existing market centres, it will provide office and training facilities for agents who set up their own businesses within the Keller Williams model.
Keller Williams agents pay a monthly fee in return for which they receive training, can list under the KW brand logo on Rightmove and Zoopla, receive admin support, CRM facilities and human resources support.
Keller Williams launched in the UK in 2014 with the franchise originally held by Donald Morris; early targets for the numbers of offices it would open were not met at the time, but this will be the second centre to open since the UK franchise was taken over by team led by Americans Matt Fetick and Diane Griffin at the start of 2018.
One of the team running the franchise is Ben Taylor, the former managing director of Countrywide’s high-end John D Wood brand, who has been in post at Keller Williams for some 15 months.
In an interview with Estate Agent Today this week, Taylor says he has spent his time in office so far building up a team of agents ‘below the radar’.
This team is now substantial. In the past month alone he has recruited 22 new agents, bringing the total between the different market centres to well over 100.
He is retaining the Keller Williams model under which agents are self-employed and initially retain 63 per cent of their commissions, with the remainder covering the costs of the market centre service.
Once they reach a 'cap' of £60,000 (less in other parts of the UK) the agent then retains 90 per cent of their commission with the remaining 10 per cent going to Keller Williams.
Taylor is no stranger to agency management - during his tenure in charge at John D Wood he presided over the re-labelling of Countrywide brands Alan de Maid, Hetheringtons, Vanet, Fitz-Gibbon, APW Lettings, and CHK Mountford - but says he has had to spend the past 15 months ensuring Keller Williams UK was fit for purpose in the current market.
“Until now we haven’t been able to ‘turn around’ agents with the appropriate training quickly enough. I've been working on that since I arrived here and now we’re in a position where we can get agents operating in the field in some cases within days of them signing up” explains Taylor.
He is reluctant to endorse targets given in the past by previous UK Keller Williams franchise holders - at one time there was talk of up to 50 market centres across the UK, each with 100 brokers.
However, he says that ultimately the company should have market centres in every UK conurbation where there is a turnover of some 4,000 to 6,000 homes per year.
The London Bridge centre has already chosen many of its initial 25 agents, with a full launch scheduled for early August.
Agents working out of London Bridge will be predominantly covering South East London, from the South Bank down to Croydon and Beckenham.
“The Keller Williams model makes it remarkably simple and removes many of the risks associated with starting one’s own business. To launch your own company with some the best training and technology available, for a few hundred pounds, is much of the reason for our explosive worldwide growth” says Taylor.
The London Bridge centre will be co-owned and operated by Chris Buckler, who is also Keller Williams UK's Director of Technology.
He has worked in the property industry for almost a decade and in business consulting with Deloitte; he previously set up his own estate agency in the Midlands, which was sold last summer.