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Maldives over Benidorm – hybrid says ‘we do not want to be the biggest’

A Hertfordshire-based hybrid agency has released a surprising and some might argue refreshing message, saying it’s not interested in size as a measure of its accomplishments.

David Lee Estate Agents says it’s often the case that the UK estate agency sector is bursting with bold claims of volume and performance prowess - and none more so than those gathering momentum within the so-called hybrid sub-sector. 

Hybrid estate agents are so termed because they are neither ‘online’ nor branch-based traditional agents - but rather self-employed agents that work on their own account but with a brand supporting them with technology, training, compliance and more. 


It’s an emerging sub-sector of the market which has grown in prominence in recent years, and was given a shot in the arm by the pandemic. Big names that have evolved into the sector in recent years in the UK have included the US giants Keller Williams and eXp, while more recent efforts have come from well-established names like Fine & Country and EweMove.

“But there are new contenders joining the throng seemingly every week,” David Lee say. “The common theme amongst hybrid agents is one of size. Many measure their success on the basis of how many agents they have attracted, although this is always somewhat clouded by the equally important question – how many stay?”

David Lee insists it is a different beast altogether in this space in not vying for sheer quantity of people as a benchmark for its success.

The firm describes itself as a comfortably-sized Hertfordshire agency led by the ‘highly experienced’ duo Lee O’Brien and David Kirby. The agency has awards from EA Masters and the Sunday Times to its name.

O’Brien and Kirby established the agency way back in 2004 ‘when the likes of eXP were just a mere twinkle in the eye of, say, Glenn Sanford – a then Keller Williams agent’.

David Lee pivoted almost two years ago from ‘branches to people’ and now works to support nine ‘high-flying estate agent associates’ as business partners in various parts of the UK.

“For us, the agents that we work with require proper time, support, encouragement and advice on a whole number of aspects. Pushing to ‘hire’ hundreds of agents each year, often without the proper vetting or experience, will simply never be our thing because we want to build long-lasting and therefore lucrative relationships with our agency family,” O’Brien commented.

“I’m far from convinced that a mere quantity led approach is ever going to be good for the customer, the brand or indeed agents as a whole.

Kirby added: “I wish the best of luck to the big American inspired platforms that, after all, like to do everything bigger and brasher I suppose.

“But the rate of expansion that some are pushing for as boasted about in their regular press releases, may start to ring rather hollow if it transpires that the customer experience suffers - especially given the high turnover at some of these brands as I understand it.”

O’Brien concluded. “I’m confident that ‘hybrid’ is going to dominate UK estate agency and as a result, there will be room for a number of such brands to co-exist. But in equivalent terms, David and I would simply rather be a Maldives beach over Benidorm.”

David Lee is currently recruiting new agents in selected areas. You can find out more info about it model here.


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