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Hybrid agents will never crack the prime London market, claims buyer

Simon Barnes says the expertise needed to buy and sell property in the capital's prime and super-prime streets cannot be provided by online agents.

Nigel Lewis

online estate agents simon barnes

A leading London buying agent has predicted that online estate agents will ‘never’ make any significant inroads into the central London prime market.

Simon Barnes (above) of agency H. Barnes & Co which has specialised in London’s prime and super-prime property markets for over 30 years,  says he believes the models on which online agents like Purplebricks and Yopa are based will never be able to deliver the levels of service needed to sell prime property in most parts of London.

“This market is still a word-of-mouth thing and through experience you can talk buyers street by street through a particular area and tell them which houses are going to give them the kind of accommodation they want,” he says.

“It might be a process of elimination and they may have to compromise on something, but you can sit down with them and work out where, what and why they want a particular kind of property and then help them pinpoint the most appropriate ones.”

Online listings

His comments are reflected in Purplebricks’ listings; out of its 4,000 properties for sale in the capital only 145 are on the market for over £1 million and just seven are for sale at £3 million or more.

Barnes says experienced agents and buyers must have the knowledge to help buyers pinpoint where these properties are.

“This is why the whole online agency thing doesn’t work in central London,” he says.

“It might work out in the suburbs where you’ve got 200 houses that are all identical and built at the same time, but in London there’s a lot more to it than just sort of putting a property in a branch window or website and waiting for the phone to ring.

“It just doesn’t work like that I don’t think it ever will. because there’s so much more to be gained  by having proper conversations.”

Read more about online estate agents.


May 30, 2019

One comment

  1. I agree with you Simon as also being in the Prime and Super Prime London market it is about knowing your clients and the area that matters. Usually clients are directed to certain areas which may not actually be the most suitable and there is some education also in how the property market and system works in the UK especially in respect to leasehold.

    Finally when dealing with Super Prime you are mainly dealing with off market properties where you have a relationship with the vendor or their representative.

    On-line I doubt will be able to replace us where a human relationship is what gives us access and also allows us to really understand our clients requirements.

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