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Industry has learnt two lessons from online, says High Street agency chief

The chief executive of Hunters franchise operation, Glynis Frew, says online estate agencies have given the industry two ‘positives’ - but have failed to replace the traditional people-centric model which is now once again in the ascendency.

Frew was speaking to TheBusinessDesk’s Women in Business lunch in York, and reported on TheBusinessDesk website. 

In the article Frew is quoted as saying that as online firms entered the market in recent years there was a fear they were going to disrupt the sector.


“It was expected that in a very short space of time, they would probably have 30 per cent market share. In actual fact, that’s not happened. Their business model is about paying up front regardless.

“As the market tightens, that hasn’t proved very successful and a number have closed. I don’t want you to think, though, that I am saying that system is no good. I think there is a couple of things online agents have really taught traditional estate agents.”

She says the first is that “brands matter” with some online agencies enjoying high levels of brand recognition, helping them in an industry based at least partly on reputation.

The second it that “the customer is willing and wants to communicate online. And they want to do that when your office shuts. Just because you close, doesn’t mean to say the customer’s transaction stops.”

However, with online agencies’ market share now in decline and several leading onliners having shut down completely, she says the traditional model remains head and shoulders as the best.

“I still believe that our model is the best because people are at the heart of a property transaction … The lesson I take from it is that it’s always important to remember that whatever industry you are looking at, you can always learn different things.”

And she concluded: “We help people to realise their dreams. To live in a property that they aspire to or even to actually solve a problem. Our vision is to be the nation’s favourite agent … Nobody can destroy the aspiration to live somewhere or in somewhere where you wanted to live. That is intrinsic in us all.”

  • Richard Spiller

    The best model is a work from home, local experienced estate agent who is also self employed.
    The overheads are very low so he/she can charge lower fees - that are not upfront fees.
    Proof you ask......well I have being doing it for over 15 years and have outsold all local agents for the last 14 years....great local service, no sale no fee, self employed equals the answer you have been looking for....if you want to be your own boss, work from home, earn £100k ...redhomes.co.uk

    • 23 July 2019 11:02 AM

    Indeed but are you able to deal with clients online at say 0200 hrs!?
    Highly unlikely that any client or potential client would want to carry out enquiries at that time but with different patterns of working that might be the only time they can contact you.
    Do you offer a 24 HR service as that would be a truly USP
    Of course all EA could offer this facility.
    I'm sure many an EA would be prepared to accept contact 24 hrs a day at least once per week....................for a decent overtime rate of course!!!
    I wonder how many additional instructions would be achieved by offering a 24 HR service!?
    Not sure it has ever been tried before but with sufficient EA employees it should be possible to facilitate that 24 HR service.
    Everything is on computer these days so a laptop would suffice.
    Got to worth experimenting with such a business model.
    Indeed it could be stated that such a service is being trialled so at least if it doesn't turn out to be beneficial the EA may revert to more normal times of business.

  • icon

    Why is ALL about offering lower fees? Great service doesn't come cheap..EVER. Doesn't matter what type of base you offer it from.

    Algarve  Investor

    True, but the public perception is that agents charge fees that are too high for not a lot of work. That's a very hard perception to shift. And not helped by the fact that in some cases it's true.

    While many agents are diligent, hardworking and only want the best for their clients, this is far from universal. That's where the resentment over high fees comes into play - people see agents doing little for handsome reward. Of course, the counter-argument is that agents only get commission once a home actually sells, so the incentive is there for them to do a really good job - something which isn't there for the upfronters.

    Speaking of perception - Purplebricks, despite all their recent travails, are clearly still doing something right going by the street I live on. Two houses being sold with the agency. Not to mention the tie-up with Team GB. The PR team PB has employed are doing an incredible job.

    Richard Spiller

    Think you are missing the point, the reason I can charge a lower fee is because I have lower overheads and can pass the savings onto the client, my actual profit per sale is the same/if not better than a high street agent, the winners are the vendors because they save money and me because I get the business...it really isn't hard to work out.


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