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Agencies & People

Major estate agency CEO: Online agencies are a ‘deceit’

Dexters' Chief Executive pulls no punches when talking about the way online and hybrid estate agencies market themselves to potential vendors.

Nigel Lewis

jeff Doble dexters

Dexters chairman Jeff Doble has taken a well-aimed swipe at his agency’s online estate agency competitors.

He says that many of the marketing claims of these online and hybrid firms, including Purplebricks, fail to inform potential vendors that significant chunks of the service offered by high street agents are missing from their service.

“If anyone asks us to sell their home then we’ll have a team of people in their area who will work their socks off for however long it takes to get that vendor the best deal,” he says.

“We can see the number of viewings requests for a property and where they come from – and only three out of every 20 are via the portals. The rest are created within the branch.”

He says that ‘passive marketing’ as many agents call online estate agency and hybrid models, only gets a certain response and although vendors can get lucky, they tend to attract chancers and tyre kickers.

“The skill of the traditional estate agent is to persuade people to look at properties they might not have otherwise considered, but might end up buying,” he says.

“It’s hard work getting the best buyer and best price – something the online agents struggle with.

“Whatever they try and tell potential vendors, they’re not providing the advice and hard work that a really good traditional agency team can deliver.

“If you want to access a passively-marketed service, then that’s fine, but vendors need to be told it’s a different animal to a well-executed high street sale.”

Doble also says the portals should stop allowing online-only agents, which he considers to be mere brokers, to list properties for sale.

“I’m constantly telling Miles Shipside at Rightmove to tackle these online ads, which are FSBO in everything but name.

“It’s like a trader selling underwear in the foyer of Marks and Spencer for free – M&S wouldn’t put up with it for long, but agents have.”

Read more about Dexters.

the neg magThe full interview with Jeff Doble of Dexters will be published next week in The Negotiator magazine.

February 24, 2021


  1. I have zero time Mark & Julian, but I do get up early and finish very late, typically I have 30 one hour calls a week, on top of the day job. Separately, the point is not that good agents such as yourself in Plymstock with 30 years of local agency knowledge, do not give great service, many of the 200 agency clients I used to service as a consultant are in that league. But, the consumer of property – wants to do business in a faster manner, they want to rent buy manage from their mobile, and the more that process is digitally automated the better. That is the direction of travel, go to Woolies and buy some pick and mix, or click four times on a mobile and a box of sweeties comes to your door with an Amazon smile. UX is all and maybe sitting in a glass fronted office was ok in the 1980’s when I started but now – well consumers want a bigger better journey, and face to face is not the answer look at Fintech – when did you last pay a cheque into a bank?

  2. For the last two years the general public chose to list 60,000 instructions with Purplebricks, making them the largest agency by instruction volume. That is 115 new properties every week. Three times more than the now defunct Countrywide Plc with well over 650 branches. The consumer is making new choices, and going ‘agency lite’ and mostly ‘DIY’ once a sale is agreed is at a certain price point, both in fee and selling price a good deal for some. I totally agree a good agent adds value to the process as suggested by Founder Jeff Doble, but times are changing and so is the high street. When we come out of the pandemic, it will be interesting to see who is still trading there, and I mean outside of the UK real estate industry, what physical shops will be in the towns and cities, Amazon and e-commerce platform is the future, like it or not. Online trading went up by 10% last year to 31%, by year end it is likely to be higher.

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