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Corporates lose more and more agents to self-employment - claim

There’s a growing trend for estate agents to quit big-name corporates and either go independent or join US-style brokerages, a top agent says.

Camilla Dell, managing partner at sales and buying agency Black Brick, says she has seen this become particularly common in London and means sellers have many more routes to the market than before. 

“In the recent tough market, estate agents have been cutting their fees to win business and, in many cases, this has hit the income of some of their leading agents” she says. 


“We’re seeing a growing number deciding to go it alone, whether as sole agents or by joining brokerages that follow the US model, where the agents are self-employed but share some overheads.”

There’s substantial evidence to back up Dell’s assessment.

The new US-led agency concept - eXp UK - launched in November but within three months declared it had recruited over 50 agents in this country. 

Its new recruits came not just from online and hybrid firms but from traditional agencies too, including Mark Bentley, a past president of the National Association of Estate Agents.

In addition, two former high profile Savills agents have this year announced that they are joining freelance agency operation Keller Williams UK.

In January it was revealed that a senior ex-Savills figure - Tanya Blake, former head of country lettings - was setting up a market centre for Keller Williams. More recently it was revealed that she had recruited Ryan Toms, another senior lettings figure at Savills with more than 16 years’ experience in the industry.



In the first days of the New Year another new self-employed agency business - called Properly - was set up by Mariel Roe and Michael Whittaker, who have a combined 40 years of experience in the industry at JLL, Felicity J Lord and Sequence.

And just last week Agent & Homes - set up by former Countrywide and LSL senior figures Rollo Miles and Bob Crowley - claimed one of its agents had earned £200,000 in a year from the brand’s Notting Hill hub.

Miles said it was time for agents to shed the traditional business models which he claims stifle individuals’ earning potential.

Poll: Is it true - are more agents quitting corporates and going it alone?


  • Michael Riley

    Here are some questions to ask when talking to these type of companies and also do your research.

    Do you support me financially whilst I'm building my sales pipeline? If not, why not?

    Where do the leads come from when I have bombarded the low hanging fruit of my friends and family network?

    Excluding Rightmove and Zoopla, what % of the hubs % goes to marketing the brand? Who deals with my clients, if at somepoint, I need a holiday, or I'm unwell? Do you publish what number of agents start with you and are still there 3,6,12 months later? (Do a search on linkedin and reach out to the ones who are or have worked in that hub. Most will be really insightful.)

    If its a self employed model ask them what their plans are around IR35 rules (and read up on some articles yourself). If they are forced by HMRC to pay a huge tax bill, which threatens the company that owns the hub, do you still get your commission, before or after that happens. Does the customer pay you and you then pay the hub or the other way around? ( Who exactly is holding the cash, if they go down.)

    I am hugely pro the agent getting paid more of the fee, but this part of the market is like the wild west at the moment and agents should be very wary about who they get into bed with.

    No matter what your current employer is like, be careful not to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

    Other than that good luck!

  • adrian black

    Excellent words of wisdom from michael riley - you have to find the right and best model that understands these issues and also the opportunity offered. Lead generation and sales conversion drive earnings and then individual share follows.

  • Anthony Hesse

    Camilla is spot on in her observations. As this choice of career direction appears to be gaining in popularity for traditional high estate agents, this in turn is having a knock on effect on the availability of staff for these businesses, an area they are already struggling with.

  • Rollo Miles

    Dear Michael
    Happy to meet any time to discuss and answer your points above.
    As I keep saying there is space for more than one model and it is not a fight between high street / hub / up-front fees .
    However I do struggle to see the difference between chain brands on the high street ! They all seem to still be working the old foxtons on steroids approach to agency .
    I believe the future will be hub models like ourselves and good independent high street offices run by their owners .

    Michael Riley

    Hi Rollo, thanks for the offer, why not publish answers here and then the other 4000 readers can have the benefit too? Just a thought.


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