The founder of a growing hybrid estate agency that The Negotiator highlighted last week has revealed more details about his business HouseFox.
This includes how its success is based on pick-and-mixing parts of the Purplebricks model with traditional high street agency.
Co-founder Neil Urch says two years ago he was working for a local agency and noticed how few people visited the branch.
“Those who walked in were holiday makers but the serious buyers were getting in touch by email and phone after receiving Rightmove and Zoopla alerts,” he says.
“So I looked at the Purplebricks model and saw how much money was being chucked at them and thought they must be doing something right.”
Urch (pictured, left) says he didn’t like the way many hybrid agents charge for all their ‘extra’ services like viewings but did embrace using self-employed local agents who work from home.
And he decided to keep customer communications via telephone and not just online, and also rejected the standard hybrid fees model.
“I looked at charging half up front and half on completion and was surprised to find that no one else was doing this,” he says. “It’s a great model because it means that when I walk out of a house with an instruction, I’ve still got an incentive to get it to completion.”
Urch says he then took a gamble, left a good job and that so far it’s been an ‘amazing success’. The estate agency, which is based out of a ‘hub’ in Weston-super-Mare, has reached profitability years before he and his business partner though it would.
After initially launching ‘on a shoestring’ 18 months ago in Weston-super-Mare, the business launched into Portishead and Clevedon six months ago and this new territory is starting to take off too.
Urch says he wants to expand the business in another area and then eventually open up in the region’s main city, Bristol. He’s also been approached by several large conveyancers and mortgage lenders to partner with HouseFox.
“My business plan says that once I’ve got five areas all making money then we’ve proved the model,” he says.