One of the most experienced and high profile figures in the industry says individual agents working for online companies are typically suffering from low income, struggle to have a good work/life balance, and don’t enjoy the true benefits of self-employment.
Adam Day has been an estate agent for 22 years and is best known for a trio of online positions - he founded one of the first online agencies, Hatched, in 2005 and then sold it to Connells in 2015, after which he headed up operations at easyProperty before joining the original Emoov where he was head of estate agency for a short period.
Now Day is leading the UK activities of EXP Realty, a US estate agency that describes itself as ‘the Amazon of property’ and which allows its freelance agents a higher-than-usual chunk of sales commission as well as equity in the company.
In an extensive interview with industry commentator and consultant Christopher Watkin, Day talks about the challenge of agents going self-employed - “making the big jump” - and how in some cases they are disappointed at the lack of empowerment that comes with working for themselves, despite believing it was going to be easier.
Referring specifically to online agents, most of which have self-employed local experts, he says: “Some of them have to have three interviews, have to ask for holidays, have to work own Saturdays, they’re expected to hit targets - that’s not being self-employed.”
He says many agents in the online sector are frustrated at reduced investment by the surviving businesses which have been unable to sustain high spending levels, and says there is a widespread feeling amongst online agents that “It’s not worth my while to go out to do this for £250 a listing.”
Day admits that on a practical basis going into self-employment in an online agency may be easier than doing the same thing with a traditional bricks-and-mortar firm because the £250-per-listing comes relatively quickly - typically as soon as there listing is confirmed - while waiting for a commission to come through from a private treaty sale can take weeks or months.
But he insists many self-employed agents in the online sector in particular suffer from an inability to achieve the work-life balance they wanted.
He is also wary of how agents employed by firms - particularly corporates - “are part of a very rigid process” that means they cannot express themselves fully as salespeople or as entrepreneurs, working to a regime that often allows little scope for personal initiative.
It’s a fascinating interview with one of the leading figures in the industry. It’s kindly been made available exclusively to readers of Estate Agent Today by Christopher Watkin - you can see the full discussion below.