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Three top online chiefs abandon sector and buy into full-fee agency

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."

  • Chris Arnold

    Reading between the lines, this is about recruitment of agents and making money from training. It's an interesting choice of franchise when there are so many better available to sell homes. "I'm a money magnet" from the Bold program just about sums it up.

  • adrian black

    nothing about delivering a better client experience and better sales results

  • Simon Shinerock

    The UK market isn’t compatible with the KW model for several reasons. The most important one being our low commission rates but also our high st model, a culture of employment and a low barrier to entry all work against their proposition over here. It’s basically the Allied Dunbar of property

  • icon

    Top, Online & Chiefs are not 3 words that spring to mind.

  • icon

    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. - Which closed owing staff wages......he likes to follow a trend.

  • Matthew Gardiner Legge

    On the other hand.... Russell Quirk has been upfront and honest about the failures of online and he was big enough to to step right out there to try and make it work in the beginning. How many people dismissed Rightmove when it first started up?

    With the benefit of hindsight, estate agency isn't going to transfer from High St to online in the way travel agency did so rapidly, but it is starting to happen.

    Personally, I have seen High St office footflow fall massively over the years sometimes to the extent where whole days would go by without anyone walking through the door. And yet, I was busy on the phone, e-mailing etc.

    It may take a while for the the traditional model to change but change it will and I would say that expensive street level offices will be one of the first causalties.

  • icon

    RQ is incredible - very few people manage to destroy so many business in such a short period of time.
    He is the most successful un-trepreneur I have ever seen - the fact that people are still willing to work for him is nothing but amazing . In my view, he should negotiate Brexit !

    First they destroyed a long standing agency. Then left dozens without a job at eMoov ("We're a £100 million worth business"). Then the failing PR business advertising raffle campaigns. And now this one.
    I wonder how long it'll take to read about it again...

  • Bruce  Patterson

    Mr Quirk certainly talks a good game


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