Hybrid and traditional estate agency fees are likely to meet in the middle as many high street operators reduce their fees and hybrids increase theirs, it has been claimed.
Russell Quirk, in an exclusive interview with The Negotiator, says that while his business has increased its fees by 300% from £295 in 2010 to £895 today, traditional agents including Countrywide have seen their average fee level reduce from 1.7% to 1.2%.
“Hybrid agents like Emoov deliver the same results as their traditional competitors including similar sell-through rates and percentage of asking price, so all we’ve got to do now is communicate this to consumers,” he says.
Quirk also says that while he maintains that hybrids will take 30-35% of the sales market, he admits it’s going to take longer than he first thought.
“Many academics have already predicted that the tipping point for tech firms is 20% and at the moment we’re almost half way there.
“The problem for us is that it’s not a sticky industry,” he says. “People don’t jump in and buy a property but instead move every seven to 12 years so even if they understand the hybrid proposition, it may be a long time before they need that service.”
Quirk also confirmed to The Negotiator that he had not talked to Countrywide about a potential purchase but that he might consider a merger or buy-out.
“I think bringing a business like ours and Countrywide’s together is the future,” he says. “The high street model isn’t sustainable as fees come under pressure.
“I think utopia would be a company with some branches that allows that them to have a regional presence but not be slave to those overheads as the high street is currently is, and with different fee choices via different brands.
“My vision for Countrywide would to sell off a lot of their brands, consolidate their branch footprint, use tech like ours to delight the customer and reduce the cost of servicing, and offer a challenger fixed-fee brand that is separate, not based in the same branches as traditional staff.”