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Virus crisis will drive more agents to become self-employed - claim

One of the industry’s highest profile figures has suggested the Coronavirus crisis could trigger many more agents becoming self-employed.

Nicky Stevenson - well known as former managing director of the Property Academy and now on the management team at Fine & Country - says the recent trend of agents moving from corporates to self-employment will not slam into reverse during the crisis.

“I actually believe it will go the other way and that employees, especially those left high and dry, will realise that the security of employment they thought they once had, isn’t quite as secure.


“Generally, people are more motivated by fear than gain, so for many the default is to stick with what’s familiar. On the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, those that have been left high and dry have less risk and may well believe that now is the opportunity to be their own boss and have more control over their time and earning potential.”

Stevenson - who has previously been an agent at Chestertons, Davis Tate and Keller Williams - says the current necessity of home working will make agents think this is a possible permanent solution to any dissatisfaction they may have had. 

“We have already seen a shift in office set ups, with some agents choosing to have one bigger office, rather than various smaller offices in different towns, and sometimes off the high street. 

“[Now] the pandemic has forced the industry to embrace certain technology that until now may not have been forefront. I don’t think that ‘normal’ as we know it will be the same again and that every agent will be more tech enabled and experienced in working remotely. 

“Now is also a great time to be learning. These ingredients in my opinion, is a great foundation to launch into self-employment” she explains.

Stevenson, who heads up the Fine & Country associate platform, says that business model provides an opportunity for what she calls “experienced, entrepreneurially minded agents” to own their own business without having the overheads of running a high-street or traditional agency. 

  • adrian black

    I think Nicky is right. I think the highest value add agency will be delivered by platforms and highly competent agents. The empowered single point of contact model is liked by home sellers and it delivers better service and better advice. Modern platforms can support and deliver a lot more than umbrella corporates at a fraction of the cost and agent earning potential is much higher.

  • Simon Shinerock

    I think the outcome will be the opposite with a mass exodus from the self employed work from home modell. I also feel that regional hubs won’t work well in the UK. The reason why I think this is that I am a high st agent and I am bias towards the high st model, just as those who advocate self employment are equally self interested. So it’s a fight between the high st the hub and the front room, game on

  • Chris Arnold

    I think there will be a mass exodus from the industry, as agents finally realise they are working for 'peanuts' and the number of transactions cannot support their ambitions. Those that remain will need to adopt their simply transactional style to one that is more relationship driven. They will need to build an audience that anticipates hearing from them, rather than a vendor who willfully seeks to avoid them. Vendors don't care where an agent is based and for them, it doesn't make any difference.

  • icon

    Can’t quite work out what she means by those left “high and dry”? I assume she means those furloughed, therefore being protected in their job by the government so firms do not have to leave them “high and dry”. I glad this person doesn’t work in my firm as she clearly doesn’t understand how it all works and is more interested in scoring points for one side of the argument against the other.,


    It's a sales pitch, end of. And a poorly thought out one at that.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I love Simon Shinerock's view - High Street, Hub or Home office the three H's of estate agency model. Maybe an agent can operate all three?

    So a corporate, all listers operate from a Home office, secure instructions which go to the host branch, maybe negotiators and financial services here too. Hub, this is where the sales and post sales teams hang out - and High Street a small unit with front facing property professionals influencing and facilitating property business.

    It is time that companies moved from hours done to tasks done mentality. If it takes 8 hours to complete task A, does it matter if a person does it at 6.30 am and throughout the day, does there need to be the tyranny of the morning meeting eating into productivity time. If a person works better from home, let them.

    If someone needs the craic of the 'buzzing' sales environment ship them into the hub, if they want to sit in the traditional office goldfish bowl, let them sit in a boutique small space, more akin to Timpsons in size than the huge offices on many high streets.

    Matthew Gardiner Legge

    Definitely agree with what you are saying Andrew. I have repositioned from corporate to self employed BUT with a company that retains a (just off) the High Street office in Central London. As consultants we come and go as we please and I am finding myself being far more efficient than I ever was working traditional office hours. It's not easy and things take a while to get going but it's certainly exciting. Respect to ALL estate agents trying to find new and exciting ways away from the corporate model.


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