There’s been a recent announcement from global realtor Century 21. They intend to expand their franchise network significantly in the UK.
There’s a lot going on in the property industry domestically. Low transactional volumes and an uncertain economic outlook combine with flat prices and overvalued stock to result in a trying time for estate agents here. Indeed Ordnance Survey states that nearly 10% of all estate agency offices have closed since 2009. That’s around 1000 branches.
So what is Century 21 doing – being very brave, or being very foolish? Are they not aware that it’s a costly exercise running branch offices here in the UK? Are they not aware that sales aren’t exactly high at present? And are they not aware of the new business model of online estate agencies?
But the traditional model of lots more costly branch offices may not be what Century 21 has in mind. And perhaps that is why their plans may not be so startlingly bonkers.
In the USA, many real estate agents and brokers do not operate from flash, prominent High Street places (although they do still charge exorbitant commissions). In the UK now, in addition to the rise of internet estate agents with lower estate agents fees, several traditional firms like Newmans are moving out of the High Street into cheaper industrial units and, such as Hunters, are even launching ‘personal agents’ that operate from home but have access to broadband, a Rightmove account, a mobile phone and a camera. Arguably all you need these days to successfully sell someone’s house.
So I’m going to guess that Century 21 really is going to become a 21st-century estate agency. And that won’t have anything to do with converting vacant High Street shops into startlingly-expensive but ultimately barely-profitable branch offices. If they’re sensible, they’ll move forward rather than backward and avoid such things. Especially since buyers prefer the speed and convenience of the internet to visiting one of those High Street offices.
They should be considering the recruitment of home based brokers and those that can operate ‘above convention’ and consequently, far below the high fee levels of old fashioned firms. Century 21 or 19th Century? Time will tell indeed…
Using a High Street estate agents means estate agents fees. Using eMoov, the UK’s leading online estate agent instead will get your estate sold by displaying it to 170 million internet visitors each month. No extortionate commissions, no percentage fees, no sole agency tie ins. Just a range of fixed, low cost estate agents fees which might even make you like estate agents again. Well, some of them.