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Major agency launches lifestyle service to bolster sales and lettings income

Humberts, the agency which was one of the first to ditch High Street offices in favour of fewer larger hubs, has now formally launched a lifestyle division.

Called Humberts Living and based at the hubs, it tries to make the agency a one-stop-shop for a wide range of property-related services far beyond traditional sales and lettings.

Its services include the management and advisory elements about mortgages, house clearance, building work, removals, cleaning, gardening, painting and decorating, interior design, electrical work, conveyancing, planning and plumbing.

The company says the move is part of its evolution to become “a true, full-service agent” and gathers together property experts, trusted contacts and local knowledge to allow customers to “access all the advice and support they need with one point-of contact.”

On its website it says: “Of course, our Property Consultants will look after your purchase, sale or let from the moment you make contact until the day you move but they are also on hand to offer mortgage and conveyancing advice, consult with you about investment prospects and discuss development potential … Our Base Team work in tandem with our Property Consultants, and they will organise removals, property maintenance and contractors to undertake tasks such as gardening, interior design and building work.”

A launch statement from the company adds: “Moving away from its old-style High Street locations in order to offer flexibility to its customers and employees, Humberts expertise is now accessible across the counties in which they operate in the UK, without being tied to single locations. 

“Instead, highly-experienced teams work out of regional hubs – and rather than being tied to their desks they go out to meet clients in their homes, working around client needs and offering expert advice with a personal approach to buying, selling and letting.

“Humberts is making the estate agent experience an additionally pleasurable one through the use of cutting-edge technology which offers customer service beyond that of the traditional agency. 

“With the recent launch of its new website, Humberts now offers improved functionality to smooth and speed the buying, selling and letting process and clients can now book viewings and valuations online, in real time, throughout the year.”

This diversification was first signposted last year when it was revealed vacation property firm Natural Retreats had purchased Humberts, which was on the verge of collapse and then managed by restructuring consultancy Begbies Traynor.

Natural Retreats was founded by Matt Spence in 2006 after he developed his first holiday let location on his family’s farm; the firm has 1,000 properties for holiday lettings on its books, across the UK and the US.

Last year Spence told Estate Agent Today that he wanted staff - called property consultants, rather than agents - to offer services ranging from cleaning, gardening and property maintenance to advising on schools, mortgages, legal advisers, pets. “Anything at all” Spence said. 

“Why do people who buy a home go to a check-a-trade comparison website when they’ve been speaking to property consultants selling their home? Why doesn’t the property consultant do that too?” he asked.

“Why do people have to arrange their own removal company when we could do it? Why do people go to another estate agent to buy a property in a different area when they’re dealing with Humberts to sell their first place - couldn't we do that?” he continued.

“We will be able to handle anything - anything - for a customer, and the sale of the property will be the least profitable and smallest part of that relationship. We’ll be like Phil and Kirstie to find their next home, and we’ll be their closest adviser on all aspects of everything they do.” 

You can see the Humberts Living website here.

  • Peter Wright

    As soon as I saw the headline i thought...bet that’s Humberts!
    When i ran my own franchise of Humberts we used to do all that as a matter of course. We knew all the builders, mortgage consultants, dog walkers,Vets etc. the difference was that we were not getting a fee from that advice and it was therefore independent and also impartial. This way you dilute the business..it all becomes about holding on to a client at any cost. Great if the landlord Is off site but for a local landlord....?
    I would be delighted to be proved wrong and wish them all the luck but too many points of contact within the same firm makes for confusion in my book. Good Luck Humberts!

  • icon

    These Natural Retreats guys are hilarious. Accuse estate agents of being asleep at the wheel, then move to an Online Agency model to reduce costs (oh, but if you call an office a “hub”, you can get away with having really large catchment areas - right?). Yet, looking at their website, their tech is basic - not what you expect from a Purple Bricks copycat.

    Now they take the cross-selling that every agency does and call it a lifestyle service. Another hilarious, amateurish attempt at PR and spin. Striking to me that they’ve missed conveyancing off their list of recommended services though - a good earner for an agency but also a more natural thing for a buyer or seller to need a recommendation for and crucially valuable for an agency to have a good working relationship with the conveyancer progressing a sale. But I guess that’s what happens when you buy an estate agency for nothing, with no prior experience of the industry, and make it up as you go along.

    Humberts goes under every few years like clockwork and I can’t wait for it to happen to this Natural Retreats shower.

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