Three former online estate agency founders - including the controversial Russell Quirk - are going into mainstream full fee agency.
They are buying a franchise area and operating under the banner of US franchise giant Keller Williams in Essex.
Quirk ran Emoov before it went into administration last winter and this morning's news marks his return to the estate agency industry for the first time since then.
For the Keller Williams franchise he has teamed up with his relative Anthony Quirk, who founded online firm HomeSeller, and Mark Readings - the man behind early online agency House Network.
“Months of contemplating and reflection have led me to invest in Keller Williams as the brand and model that has the potential to be one of the biggest estate agency businesses in the UK in addition to its worldwide status” says Russell Quirk.
“It’s not until you push the boundaries of the industry as Mark, Anthony and I have done that you start to see that customers will pay a decent fee for decent attention and that this can be achieved by recruiting a significant number of motivated, ambitious local agents that will have the ability to earn proper money, this combined with well-known local people and the credibility of a global brand, superior training and a model that cuts out the unnecessary elements but works hard to promote its people as its biggest asset” he continues.
Their deal with the UK entity of Keller Williams - which is run by former Countrywide director Ben Taylor - is for part of their home county, Essex.
Keller Williams offers freelance agents the opportunity to operate a model under which they individually retain 63 per cent of their commissions, with the rest covering the costs of market centres - serviced offices used as a base by clusters of agents.
Once individual agents reach a ‘cap’ (£60,000 in London, less in other parts of the UK) the agent then retains 90 per cent of their commission with the remainder going to cover the centre costs.
The Quirks have substantial mainstream agency experience having founded a traditional business together in 1999 which grew to cover most of south Essex over the next decade.
Readings - chief executive of House Network for 15 years - is set to manage the Keller Williams Essex Market Centre as Operating Principle. It is believed he is aiming to recruit up to 100 agents to operate from the centre over the coming months.
Russell Quirk will continue his role as co-founder of the fledgling Properganda PR, which he currently combines with his developing role as a vehement Brexiteer and right wing contributor to radio programmes and social media.
Meanwhile Anthony Quirk will continue to run his existing agencies, Anthony Quirk & Co at Canvey Island and Beaulieu Estates, Chelmsford.
Keller Williams, a multi-million dollar company with 180,000 agents in 40 countries, is a relatively new entrant to the UK market and operates six other market centres including London Prime in Victoria; London Bridge; Bromley; Kingston upon Thames, Leeds and Glasgow.
Under Taylor’s leadership the UK operation of Keller Williams has recently recruited high profile agents including Nicky Stevenson, formerly of Peter Knight’s Estate Agency Events; Daren Cridge of PurpleBricks; and Andrew Benn formerly of Spicerhaart.
“With our huge collective experience gained from many years pioneering and evolving online estate agency and as high street agents for many years, we are well placed to understand where the future of estate agency lies and it’s destined to be a traditional fee approach meets high service, greater accessibility and tech empowerment. This is exactly what Keller Williams have been all about since they were founded in the 1980’s. No one does it better or makes more money” says Readings.
Ben Taylor says: "It’s pretty evident that estate agency in this country is changing for the better. Leading that, Keller Williams is all about empowering our agents through training and technology to deliver a world-class experience to their customers.
"Partnering with industry veterans such as Mark, Russell and Anthony helps to progress our strong growth still further and I’m delighted and proud that we’re now working together.
"Next year is shaping up to be a very interesting year indeed for us and for Keller Williams globally, already at 180,000 agents across 1200 market centres in 40 countries."