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Exclusive: £5m to be spent on self-employed agents in 100 areas

An online operator called Nested is to spend £5m to promote the self-employed estate agency concept in 100 parts of the country - and it says it is gunning to be the number one company in that space.

Back in March this year Nested - which had already secured £20m in past funding - announced that it was to receive £5m from the German Axel Springer publishing empire, which also invested in Purplebricks.

Nested’s own model formerly offered a 'guaranteed buy' of a vendor's property if it did not sell within a set period for a minimum price, but now the agency has changed direction and is promoting what chief executive Matt Robinson calls "our Modern Estate Agent offering”. 

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This involves a mix of traditional agents ‘in the field’ and the intensive use of technology; it has been tested in areas of London and is now going to roll out nationwide. 

It plans to launch in 100 locations across the country in the next 12 months and on its website it says: “Not only are we first-class estate agents. We are also buying agents and chain specialists. The first estate agent built specifically for home movers, from sale to settled.”

The company is lead by Matt Robinson, a serial entrepreneur.

“We are unashamedly gunning for the top-spot as the number one supported, self-employed estate agency in the UK. We’ve been testing this model for some time and fixed the problems that competitors have struggled with since inception and we have serious backing with which to invest in our partner agents properly as we scale together” explains Matt Robinson.

In a launch statement, Nested takes a swipe at existing self-employed agencies such as Keller Williams and eXp, which it described as “two leading imported brands” with roots in the US.

“Neither has grown by much in the years since launching here” says Nested. 

It claims Keller Williams has around 400 agents and eXp just 220 “despite being very noisy on social media in promoting their offerings.” 

Nested claims to have found out why, in its opinion, these brands have failed to get traction. 

It lists their drawbacks as: 

- No short-term financial cushion for agents, with agents on their own with no income for a minimum of six months; 

- No marketing budget per agent on a local basis, with agents are on their own financially and directionally here too;

- Having self-generated leads only and having to cope with admin, compliance and sales progression on their own; 

- Being provided with no bespoke technology – “existing hybrid brands are just shoe-horning existing, unsuitable CRMs” claims Nested;

- There being no meaningful national marketing budget for brand promotion;

- No dedicated territories, so at any time, another agent can join the same brand and compete with existing agents from across the street.

Instead, Nested wants to offer what it calls “unique benefits” to self-employed agents who operate under its auspices.

These are: 

- Up to £25,000 in assistance to help partner agents financially whilst they build their business, subject to conditions;

- Up to 70 per cent of the customer fee retained by the partner agent;

- Valuation leads provided every month with up to an additional £500 per month in local marketing spend to deploy as the agent wishes;

- A dedicated website and boards;

- Access to Nested’s bespoke technology platform and app;

- A £5m war-chest to build a brand and to become a household name, plus the backing of a global advertising giant - Axel Springer;

- A dedicated and defined geographic territory for each partner agent; and

- All admin, telephone answering, enquiry handling and sales progression dealt with centrally by the Nested support team.

Former John D Wood agent Alice Bullard, now head of commercial at Nested, says: “We are the first self-employed estate agency model to truly support our partner agents as local professionals and we are the first to raise a seven-figure sum to dominate this space. 

“In providing a proper financial cushion to agents they can go about listing and selling whilst building a business that will see earnings in excess of £100,000 a year and yet still have the flexibility in working hours that we all know is so important now. 

“They won’t have to stress about paying their bills or borrowing money from the bank or from mum and dad, as we’ve removed the ‘leap of faith’ that we believe is a significant obstacle to the self-employed estate agency model otherwise. 

“Providing dedicated territories, a guaranteed marketing budget for their specific local area that increases as the agent builds their market share, plus a well thought out technology platform to help agents on the move and their customers, are obvious benefits that Nested pledge as part of their unique offering. Hybrid estate agency has evolved - and Nested are the innovators.”

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