Should High St Agents offer an Online package to counter Purplebricks/Yopa?

You all might laugh at the Purplebricks and Yopa’s of this world and post comments online about them being rubbish, saying stuff like their service is cr*p, they get paid on the listing – not the sale, they aren’t local, they don’t offer a great service, they haven’t got people on the ground, they run it from their kitchen table etc etc … and yes, I would agree with you on all those points .. but most of you agents aren’t doing anything to counter the threat of them ….. apart from posting comments from behind the desks of your expensive High Street premises.

Remember, the online / hybrid market has no more than 4% to 5% of the market .. this is not a time to panic .. yet!

Interestingly, I have had many phone calls from High Street agents asking my opinion if they should offer two services …… a High Street offering and an Online Agent offering at the same time?

The answer is yes … but only if you can answer yes to either of these scenarios..

  • You are a regional player and you can set up your own mini contact centre.
  • or as a good friend of mine, who is an estate agency industry guru and mentor, suggested recently to me…  a few small one man band independents band together as a cooperative of independents and set up you own mini contact centre (ie one per town) you can keep the online and High St offering completely separate. The gentleman concerned even has a plan/strategy and I am more than happy to pass on his details should anyone want to know more.

However, if you are an independent, with between one and five offices and you do offer the two services (High St and Online) without that contact centre  … you could be creating a monster .. a monster you might not be able to control.

Let me explain more ..

You are at the Free Val, sat on the sofa, you have walked around with an Oscar like performance, asking about the kids / grand kids pictures on the wall, the dog/cat has shed half a kilo of hair on your new suit, you have endured 15 minutes of the potential vendor going on about how their house is the best in the street …. And then, after you have done your presentation, showing how wonderful you are, talking about your awesome mailing list, the fact all the team visit the property, the fact you get a Premium listing on Rightmove, Property of the Week in the newspaper, the fact viewings will accompanied you say, chase every viewing, handle the sale with kid gloves in a highly trained sales progression unit …

Mrs Miggins – all that lovely awesome service on our High St option fee plan will be 1.5% which will cost you £4,500 in fees .. or you can have our Online Fee at £995 get a board and a bog standard Rightmove add .. and then you are on your own kid .. because you can’t have the newspaper ad, you can’t have the premium listing, you can’t have all the staff visiting the property, your own feedback and sort the solicitors out yourself .. its up to you. “

You will be devaluing and dumbing down your service, you will be saying, we have this awesome service but we don’t think we are worth it, so you can have this ‘cheap as chips’ option instead.

…… because here is the killer question(s) … What will you do if a ‘online package’ vendor walks into your office to ask a question. What if they ask for an advert in the newspaper? What if they ask for an accompanied viewing? Turn them away? Or deal with them? ..because if it’s the second .. that will make a mockery of your online package.

Come on .. wake up and smell the coffee fellow agents of the UK.

It’s really hard to be an agent at the moment and most of you are really awesome at being the best estate and letting agent in your town .. you go the extra mile to make buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords happy … but you haven’t changed the way you try and get new business for the last 20 years. You aren’t doing anything different to every other agent on your High Street.

Some of you were at LettingsLive and would have heard the awesome Sam Mitchell, Head of Lettings for Rightmove stand on stage and tell you you need to be different, you need to be seen as the go to guy (or girl) for property, the local expert …. Then he showed what he considered to be one of the best property blogs in the UK .. the guys from Martin and Co in Chelmsford ..

Have a look at their blog and you will see why out of all the agent’s blog’s in the UK he had to choose from, he chose this one….

Every Thursday, a meaty journalist style article on the Chelmsford property market is written. Now if you don’t come from Chelmsford, it will be boring as hell .. but this is only for the people of Chelmsford and they love this its like HomesUnder the hammer/Grand Designs/LocationLocationLocation all rolled into one .. and it all on Chelmsford!

Then on the other days of the week, they post buy to let deals .. but hardly any of them are on the market with their own agency .. they are on the market with the competition.


Because, they aren’t trying to sell anything .. but instead, give honest advice and honest opinion on the very best deal for landlords to buy. How good does that look? Then on a Friday, they post the best house that has come on the market that week in Chelmsford .. and again, 90% of the time – it came on the market with a competitor agent… and they are telling people to contact the opposition agent themselves to view it.

Sounds weird doesn’t it? Trying to sell opposition agents properties.

But you aren’t trying to sell it .. you are just saying .. look at this .. it’s a great property because it’s a great buy to let deal or its really nice.

It makes you look impartial, makes look professional, makes you independent and objective. Remember .. the guys at Chelmsford never had the properties on the market in the first place .. so what they never had .. they never lost ..

… but think of the goodwill you are creating by saying .. here is a great house you should buy for BTL .. give xyz a call.

These guys are beating landlords and vendors off with $***y sticks …I wonder why?

Instead, most of you reading this, in your marketing, talk about your firm, your services, how wonderful you are, how long you have been open, your cracking fee deals … but that is boring and people are switching off …its no wonder people are attracted by £1,000,000 worth of TV advertising a month that a couple of cheeky chaps behind a purple screen promising the world for a cheap fee ..

You will never ever win the fee war against the Purplebricks’s and Yopa’s of this world .. so don’t even try.

If you are going to win the fee war, don’t get into one. The best way to win the fee war is to avoid it. How do I mean?

PB’s and Yopa’s low fees are there in order to win the listings, but don’t fight back by also slashing your fees. Rather, take the opposite direction by fighting back with superior value. You don’t see Waitrose dropping their prices of their £3 bag of apples when Farmfoods drops their prices of a bag of apples from 75p to 50p but people still buy the £3 bag because they know the standard of the goods.

What you should do is emulate the guys at Chelmsford…and Canterbury .. and Derby …. and 95 other locations around the UK and start to prove you are the awesome property market guru’s you know you are .. but the homeowners and landlords of your town don’t.

I have recorded a number of short videos on YouTube together with quite a few agents giving their opinions as well on how to do this … have a look and if you want to beat the cheap as chips agents and charge a decent fee for a decent service … these videos will help you … (but only if you want to help yourself) ..

kind regards


Some bloke from the East Midlands who believes there has to be another way to attract new clients as an Estate/Letting Agent

PS If you like to read – here are 240+ articles on attracting homeowners and landlords to your estate agency and lettings agency

Version 2

Christopher Watkin

Ghostwriter and Freelance Property Market Journalist

07950 147572

Linkedin profile 


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

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