Are Online Estate Agents Too Cheap?

In the history of human relationships, no one has ever been attracted to someone of the opposite $ex because they are a tightwad. No single man has ever said, ‘wow, look how she buys her Christmas presents in the January Sales to save money – that’s so horny’. No single woman has ever looked at a man in the supermarket and said, ‘I want that man’s babies – see how he only buys the Value range’. Whilst a man would get away with the chat up line’ How is it like to get paid smoldering at the camera while wearing expensive clothes? … the opposite could be said if he change the wording slightly to ‘£5 for the Tesco’s Jeans and a £3 Primark top.

Cheap is not a turn on..

We all know cheap people… I mean, how is cheapness going to make anybody think better of you?

I used to work for a company that took their staff out for a meal to the local Chinese Restaurant as a way of saying thanking to their staff  every six months …. but only on £10 buffet night and you had to buy your own drinks. I am sure you have had similar experiences and in the end, everyone notices – and the impression you give is NOT a positive, warm cuddly thing either .. it’s an impression that, once made, is almost impossible to repair.

I used to work for another firm, and had a conference. Yes, but this conference had a full fun fair on it .. in two big halls of the NEC. Full sized dodgems, MerryGo Rounds, Proper Helter Skelter, a huge ‘the louder you scream the faster we go’ Walzter , Carousels with beautifully painted horses  … this was proper good and I have treasured the memory of that night for years. God I loved working for them.

In your life .. be it work, family or friends  …. has there has never been a time when you were impressed, fascinated and astounded by an act of cheapness?  Of course not…

So, you cheap fee agents, who are you trying to impress when you are being cheap?

Anyone can set up an agency and be cheap .. it’s like all your USP is .. ‘hey we sell or let houses but we are cheap’ ..and if you think about it, when agents offer cheap or free deals… what are you getting from it? .. being cheap?

To which I know the reply will be (especially from the online/hybrid/call centre agent brigade)  something like, ‘We want to change the face of UK estate agency both offering a better deal for house sellers’, or ‘We don’t have a High Street office so passing the savings on to you .. meaning you save money’.

Utter codswallop.

So if you’re not cheap, then what are you supposed to be – reasonable priced and frugal?

Really? Frugal? Frugal is often called for in one’s personal life – but come on – you are selling a service .. when was the last time someone said say to themselves when buying a car, a person who had an Audi budget, “Do you know, I wont buy the Audi A3 with the big wheels and fairy lights, I will buy the Skoda Fabia, because I know it’s the same car and save the £40 a month difference on the Contract Hire payments into a ISA”.  You are a professional estate agent… Cheap (Frugal) is simply the lazy mans way out to open an estate or lettings agency …  and not taking pride in having a common sense approach to being an estate or letting agent. No

What would impress me beyond the stars is an online/call centre/hybrid agents charging the same as High Street agents?

I honestly believe there is a place in the UK for an estate agency to be as big as Countrywide and have no offices and price themselves at a decent fee level.

The only online/call centre/hybrid agent is who remotely heading in that direction, in my humble opinion, a firm that does impress me (and no I don’t work for them) is Purplebricks, with their local experts dotted around the UK. Speak to any of their ‘Local Property Experts’ and they tell me they are run off their feet with Free Valuations and Market Appraisals (I must admit, I have been impressed with all their upbeat attitude as well – The Bruce brothers must have a magic potion – you need to sell that chaps!)  … but their patches are half a county normally and that TV and Web Media advertising was costing them, according to the Stock Market Report published in December, £1,033,000 a month (in the Summer months of 2015).

Is that a good return on investment?  You must decide?  

All I know is I know what I would do. Take the best elements of Purplebricks, (Nationwide brand, good PR, keep it but tone down the national TV advertising and most importantly, have have those local people on the ground but more importantly, put the fees up and finally, add some weight behind the title local property specialist.

What is that thing? Well, Purplebricks might already be doing this, but I have a PB in my area and I have over 70 estate and letting agent clients around the UK, so I would hope if they were doing this, it would have shown up on one of our radars …

Go on Chris .. what is it?

Let me tell what it isn’t

Stop talking about yourself . no one cares you work from 7am until 9pm – No one cares you have Sunday Times or ESTA’s awards for best this or best that – No one cares you have a Bizzlion independent 5 star reviews on All Agents – No one cares what you have sold or let this week – No one cares except you, your boss and your Mum .. nobody likes anyone who talk about themselves … so why do you agents do just that?

This is what you should be doing!

Start talking about something people (homeowners and landlords) in your town are interested in. So if you are Croydon (change Croydon to your town) … answer me this .. What would be more interesting to Croydon homeowners and Croydon landlords? Your opening hours, Awards, 5* AllAgents accolades and the number of houses you have sold … or these ….

  • How much is my Croydon House Worth?
  • How much will my Croydon house go up in value over the next 1/2/5/10 years?
  • How does Croydon property market compare with the neighbouring towns?
  • Which parts of Croydon give the best yields?
  • Which parts of Croydon have offered the best capital growth over the last 10/20 years?
  • When should I sell my Croydon house?
  • Where should I be buying in Croydon?
  • Should I be buying anywhere else apart from Croydon?
  • Where are the best buy to let deals in Croydon?

See a theme?

  • Croydon homeowners are interested in the Croydon property market
  • Kingston landlords are interested in the Kingston property market
  • Cheltenham homeowners are interested in the Cheltenham property market

See a pattern? Landlords/Homeowners in your town are interested in the Property market in their town because THEY OWN PROPERTY in that town .. People are only interested in themselves – but boy oh boy they are obsessed their house, the value of their house.

Its all about them, their house, their money, their assets just talk about that.

Look at these agents, are producing articles about their local property market and putting them out there onto newspapers, newsletters, property blogs, videos, facebook, linkedin, twitter and the punters are loving it. And when I say love it, we even have had people ring up the agent complaining they hadn’t received the marketing material one month! It has been piloted on independents and franchises and it works every time if you do it right.

TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL PDF OF THE NEWSLETTER .. CLICK ON THE INDIVIDUAL NEWSLETTERS (they are double sided so you only get to see one side on these jpegs)

Screenshot 2016-02-03 07.35.41

… a nice one for London agents .. this one on Docklands E14 … you need to see the other side of the newsletter ..

Screenshot 2016-02-03 06.43.46

… a nice A3 version from Leicester

Screenshot 2016-02-03 06.33.04

… and one from Essex ..

Screenshot 2016-02-03 06.35.52


.. and just like agents don’t actually put up the boards or do the floor plans anymore, do you really think these agents have time to write all these articles? Of course not, they get people to ghostwrite for them.

So if you are a James Bond villain style online/hybrid/callcentre estate agent, wanting to take over the world of UK estate agency, drop me line to DIY Estate and Lettings Agent Henchman. PO Box 123 (although I find email better … because I honestly believe, there is an opportunity in the UK, for a nationwide, non office based hybrid agency that could charge decent fees and still be a big player. However, I doubt you will contact me because you know better with your myopic short sighted cheap fee deals and ‘changing the face of UK estate agency’ marketing dribble you have talked yourself into , so in reality, let’s bring it back to the real world, if you are an existing or soon to launch independent estate or letting agent and have world domination plans for town’s housing market .. why don’t you do the same? Find out more about the system. It works for any agent, be you High Street, Online, Hybrid or Call Centre… the office is irrelevant – all you need is passion, patience, hard work and you will get organic growth of 20% to 30% in both lettings and sales within 18 months

 (and if you are not the boss, forward him a link to this article and ask him or her to read it….)

I dare you!  … because what if the stuff I bang on about really does work? Would I really make the claims of 20% to 30% if I couldn’t back them up? Over 150 agents around the Uk are doing this? There can only be one property Guru in the town .. what if a competitor became the local property guru? What if they starting taking stock from you? Just saying….

So come on .. I dare you to find out more .. Visit the website, look at 41 testimonials (seven on video) of fellow letting agents (even one agent who after years of treading water, banging his head against a brick wall, grew his massive city centre lettings operation by 200 managed properties in 21 months to 1,150 under management) the videos of all the agents talking about the system that is called Landlord and Vendor Farming, look at the ‘How do we do it’ section of the website, with six videos (totaling 55 minutes) telling you exactly what you need to do (again you don’t need me) to get more landlords and vendors to use your agency .. so come on .. stop bashing your head against the wall, stop chasing your tail, start enjoying the job of agency once more, start earning decent fees, start having a better work/life balance .. start by visiting the website and if you want a chat .. email me or pick up the phone (number on the website)

…. the ball is your court .. what have you got to loose?









Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572

You May Also Enjoy

Breaking News

Spring activity boost pushes asking prices close to new record

The average asking price of property coming to the market rises by 1.1% (+£4,207) this month to £372,324, just £570 short of the record in May 2023, while the annual rate of price growth is now +1.7%, the highest level for 12 months: A key factor behind this growth towards a near-record average price is…
Read More
Breaking News

Weekly News Roundup – 19/04/24

A roundup of the week’s top property and proptech news stories in partnership with Proptech-X Table of Contents Ascendix deep dives into the world of the AVM CEO Adam Pigott on tour in Norfolk with tlyfe App VTS Activate Multifamily launches   Ascendix deep dives into the world of the AVM This month Yana Yarotska from Ascendix…
Read More
Breaking News

Breaking Property News – 18/04/24

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Proptech-X.   Scotland to get to Net Zero by 2045 in stunning U-turn Because of its serious implications here in full is the Scottish ‘apology or explanation’ why it thinks it is OK to let the planet burn for the next two decades. Net Zero and…
Read More
Breaking News

Breaking Property News – 17/04/24

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Proptech-X.   CEO Adam Pigott on tour in Norfolk with tlyfe App Full disclosure CEO Adam Pigott and his team are one of my earliest clients, so it is always a pleasure to hear what they have been getting up to. And this week they were…
Read More
Love or Hate Rightmove
Breaking News

Rightmove’s weekly mortgage tracker

Headlines The average 5-year fixed mortgage rate is now 4.84%, up from 4.45% a year ago The average 2-year fixed mortgage rate is now 5.23%, up from 4.77% a year ago The average 85% LTV 5-year fixed mortgage rate is now 4.77%, up from 4.46% a year ago The average 60% LTV 5-year fixed mortgage…
Read More
Rightmove logo
Breaking News

Rightmove comment on inflation reducing to 3.2%

UK inflation slowed less than expected last month, making traders and economists more cautious about the likely pace of interest rate cuts. Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgage expert said: ‘It’s positive to see inflation continuing to fall this morning, albeit not by quite as much as expected, as the blocks continue to build towards the anticipated…
Read More