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Connells-owned online agency Hatched to close immediately

The Connells-owned online agency Hatched is to close with immediate effect. A statement from the company says:

“Online estate agency Hatched will be closing to all new business with immediate effect, Connells Group announces today. The decision underlines Connells Group’s belief that the ‘online-only’/hybrid business model is fundamentally flawed and affirms the Group’s absolute commitment to its high street estate agency operation. Connells Group will seek to retain and redeploy all Hatched employees elsewhere within its business.

Hatched was acquired by Connells Group in 2015 to be run as an entirely separate enterprise to its core high street estate agency business. Since then, it has received a programme of investment including new head office premises and the doubling of its team of staff. In the same period, Connells Group has grown organically through cold start branch openings and acquiring further established high street estate agency businesses – such as 16 branch Rook Matthews Sayer and five branch Paul Dubberley - to extend its, now nearly 600, branch network further. The Group has also been at the forefront of adapting to changing digital technologies and consumer needs, developing new propositions as highlighted by its lead role in Fixflo and mio.



“Significant resource has been poured into Hatched over the last three years. We have thoroughly tested the hybrid model and have reached the conclusion that it does not produce a viable economic result – evidenced by the results of those operating in this sector – and with the cost of customer acquisition being one of the main barriers to being able to deliver a profitable return,” says David Plumtree, Connells Group Estate Agency Chief Executive. 

“There is much talk of ‘disruption’ from hybrid estate agents, but from our experience we have found it significantly lacking when compared with the level of customer service, support and expertise that our high street operations provide. Ultimately, an upfront fee obligation – payable irrespective of whether a property sells or not – is not the right solution for the customer,” continues David. “As the UK’s largest and most profitable estate agent – completing more sales than any other UK estate agent - and with years of experience to draw upon, we are well equipped to take decisive action when, commercially, something simply doesn’t work.”

“Customers overwhelmingly demand our ‘full service’ and local expertise that blends traditional marketing techniques with the best technological advancements, but which never loses sight of core estate agency,” says David. “Face-to-face accessibility, intimate local market knowledge, a progressive digital offering, dedicated sales progression - and not just a focus on winning instructions - undisputedly works best for our customers and  is becoming increasingly essential in a more challenging marketplace. Our decision serves the best interests of both our business and customers.”

  • Paul Singleton

    Let's hope the other clown online agents follow suit!!!

    Rob  Davies

    On that point, what has happened to easyProperty.co.uk? Every so often they pipe up with an advert or claims of outrageous success, and then they go very quiet again. Haven't heard anything about them for yonks.

    I genuinely thought the tie-up with GPEA might work out for them, giving easyProperty the in they'd never managed to gain before. But they just don't seem to do anything.

    If nothing else, people know about and use the likes of Purplebricks and Housesimple. No-one I speak to has even heard of easyProperty, despite all the PR, the TV ads and the famous brand name.


    Rob Davies,
    As I have said in a post below, perhaps Adam Day happened to EasyProperty? Founder of Hatched who moved to EasyProperty last year?

  • Rob  Davies

    Wow, bit of a kick in the teeth for the online movement - which has undeniably been gaining momentum in recent times.

    Surprised it's taken this long for Connells to act, having acquired the agency three years ago. Have they only just realised it's not doing the business, or has there been a more sudden decline?

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    The Start of the demise.
    I received a letter from E/move this morning to say the High Street Agents are dead.
    Well E/Move you are WRONG.
    Move 2 Estate Agents High Street 1 Office in Ayrshire Scotland, we are Flying.
    So to E/move and all the rest of you so called On Line Plonkers you are loosing your battle and the War.

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    The next nail in the coffin will be when Purplebrick disclose how many properties they actually dont sell and how many millions go to waste with Purplebricks not delivering a sale

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    The online model only really works for homeowners in an easy sale market. When it toughens up and they sit there with no viewings and no contact having paid up front, it suddenly loses its appeal.

    Full service agents, doing what they do best, ie SELLING property to people and then working hard to get the sale through, will always win in this type of market and that market won't change anytime soon.

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    The online model only really works for homeowners in an easy sale market. When it toughens up and they sit there with no viewings and no contact having paid up front, it suddenly loses its appeal.

    Full service agents, doing what they do best, ie SELLING property to people and then working hard to get the sale through, will always win in this type of market and that market won't change anytime soon.

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    Conells are nuts to close Hatched. But what else would you expect from the Ostrich’s on the. High street I’m surprised they don’t still employ someone to glue the narrow lens pics to the reams of details they prepare.

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    Purplebricks share price now collapsed by 41.42% in the last 12 months :).......and those technical analysts out there will now see that the share price appears to be in terminal decline...(ie lower lows and lower highs over that period) .......interesting times !

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    Purplebricks shares have dropped to £2.22 over the last three months, from an earlier peak of £4.10 in May.

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    A very silly buy in the first place -who’s ideas was that -Connells need to stick to what they do best 1980s Esate Agency -although there have been other strange decisions of late such selling zoopla Shares just before a huge bounce -odd

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    Its a shame the "online agents" choose the argument that "High Street Agent are Bad!" Its the only real plausible argument that simply is wrong. The industry is changing massively, the industry really needs to pull its socks up but it has nothing to do with online agents or High Street Agents, the challenge is Bad Agents vs Good Agents. We are all online and we benefit from a High Street Presence. "PurplePricks" locally to us are appalling. No care or consideration to the Buyer at all. Our local agent is a PT instructor at the same time. Cant get hold of her and stores the keys for her properties in a pram in the unlocked porch! Our turnover has increased again so I disagree with the bias views of Nick at EweMove , who's letter was sent to "Turn" high Street agents to online! NEWSFLASH, we are online and we are here to stay! We offer a superb service and we are here to stay! #justsaying

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    How did those very sensible people running Connells ever get talked into opening an online agency?
    I suppose some financial guru talked them into keeping all options open. Well done Connells for seeing the light before you squander too much money. Concentrate on what you are good at. Never in the history of Estate Agency has so much money been spent advertising these online jokers. What will happen when this huge advertising expenditure dries up? Surely those investors who have taken a punt on this must be coming to their senses soon. What a waste of money.

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    Directors have to make excuses for their failure somehow. They are not going to admit they made a poor purchase, or that they were behind in the race, or that they did not have the expertise to play catch up.

    What was the attraction to Hatched over, say, Purple Bricks or Yopa or E/Ewe/Moo/Mov? Nothing. I have not seen any figures but I bet nobody in the general public had even heard of them. A good few have heard of the others though.

    Also, someone above said what happened to EasyProperty. Perhaps Adam Day, the founder of Hatched, who went to EasyProperty last year, is what happened to EasyProperty?

    I wouldnt read too much into this. It has been long predicted that the online/hybrid space is going to shrink to just a few players. Why would anymore than that be needed when they are national and the whole point of them is economies of scale and efficiencies? Just like there are not a dozen Amazons.

  • Tony Sinclair

    Here we go again with these forums. Full of people in denial engaging their mouth before their brains. A trait usually reserved to politicians. Thankfully, there are still a few amongst you who still know how to talk sense.

    Property Wizard in answer to your comment.

    "The next nail in the coffin will be when Purplebrick disclose how many properties they actually dont sell and how many millions go to waste with Purplebricks not delivering a sale"

    This enigma was solved by a City Analysis many moons ago because of PB's constant refusal to reveal the answer to the question. The figure reach was that PB sells 52% of their properties while leaving 48% unsold (or 48% of their suckers... oops customers out of pocket)

    As mentioned here, this kind of Hybrid Model 'Pay If We Sell Pay If We Don't' will eventually fail and I believe will face regulation next year. With PB struggling in Australia and coming under scrutiny in America things do not bode well for them. Yet while the model runs on greed rather than customer service it will indeed keep teetering on the edge of the great abyss.

    The trend of High Street Estate Agents closing down will continue while they keep moaning about Hybrid Agents and blaming them with every excuse under the Sun instead of trying to hang on to their own greedy model of charging outrageous fees.

    Riddle me this...

    Why should a High Street agent (in most cases) charge thousands of pounds more for doing exactly the same as a much cheaper Hybrid Agency?

    As for the naysayers who constantly compare all Hybrid Online Agencies to the controversial Purplebricks... wake up and smell the coffee.

    Yopa for instance, is fast aligning to overtake Emoov next year due to their focus on Customer Care and Service. And indeed it's No Sale - No Fee option.

    The problem with UK business in general over the past few decades is the 'Stand And Deliver' attitude. Businesses who have have adapted the 'Pirates Code' of "Take all you can and give nothing back" ah-arrrr!

    Well guess what? Consumers have said enough is enough.

    They are becoming more savvy and are fighting back. Their ranks are swelling in demanding good old fashioned Value for Money. especially with the uncertainty of Brexit et al.

    I know this and so should everyone here because at the end of the day we are all consumers too!

    So let's cut the name calling and blame game. High Street Agents... put your own houses in order instead of sinking into denial and blaming Hybrid Models who are quietly chuckling at you as their coffers swell and yours dwindle.

    If you want a comparison try the big supermarkets who year on year are constantly losing out to the likes of Aldi and Lidl yet refuse to amend their marketing trickery.

    It's not rocket science folks....

    "If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or build a better mousetrap than his neighbour... though he build his house in the middle of the woods... the world will make a beaten a path to his door" .

    Simon Shinerock

    Hi Tony, I sense conflict in the force when I read your comments. The reality is whether an agent is on the high st or not, the best agent will win and they will be worth their fee. The cost of acquisition of business is not any greater in the high st model and it has numerous advantages that guarantee its future, albeit with less offices working in a more automated way. Think about this Tony, if you have five offices you need five leaders and each one will be more motivated to establish their fiefdom than if they work alone or as a member of a bigger team. Selling houses requires so much more skill than most people realise and only really talented, well trained and committed agents can do the job really well. Of course from a consumer point of view it’s better to choose a cheaper service if on a like for like basis they are the same. That means mediocre agents will be exposed and put out of business. But, and it’s a big but, the best agents, the top five percent, will flourish and their fees are likely to go up not down, especially if, A’s is likely, we get regulation. Right now consumers benefit from an unregulated market with low barriers to entry, this has led to us having the cheapest fees in the world. So there you are Tony, it may not chime with your view but it’s the real situation

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    Considered response Tony.......well argued and thought through......well done !

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    Tony, your just another online agent which will end in tears. You could try recruitment next. Why do my customers give so many bottles of wine and boxes of chocolates to my girls and boys after paying our full fees. How many more £millions are you online people going to spend on advertising? A calamity never seen before in the property industry.

  • Velgram Quaid

    Online estate agency model such as Purple Bricks is only fit for lay down sales in a very active market. If you know you have a house that will sell if only you can get it on Rightmove, then Purple Bricks is the way to go. Otherwise it's a fool's choice, because it's obvious that if an agent will get paid whether your house sells or not, they' have no incentive to push for the sale, because they've already been paid. PB is only surviving (just) because of the colossal amount of money that's been poured into it. Wait for the big crash. It should happen sometime soon.


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