A different model is poised to take over the British market, with brands that are personal rather than corporate
If you are looking to buy, sell, let or rent, how important is the brand or reputation of the agent you deal with? And is that about the company or the particular individual you are dealing with? In a fast-changing world, this difference between company brand and personal brand is coming to the fore as new estate agency models enter the market, including many that place the emphasis on the individual agent rather than on an overarching company brand.
The idea isn’t new. In many countries around the world, notably America, the property market is already built around individual self-employed agents, often working alone but supported by an umbrella organisation that provides back-office facilities and services such as administration, compliance, marketing, legal support and training.
So, which is more important? The reputation of a company built up over perhaps decades but that relies on employees to match the brand’s values and standards, or an individual reliant on the sweat from every pore to deliver service on an individual basis?
The new umbrella agents in the UK, which include American operators such as Keller Williams and eXp Realty, are successfully signing up many dozens of individual agents, all self-employed, to operate under their model – and are doing so based on the premise that the individual agent will retain some 70% of the fee income rather than taking maybe 10% in an employed model. London, in particular, has a number of small, boutique agents, often in the higher price ranges, which operate on a similar basis: a seller’s variant of the many buying agents that exist and who take their fees from the buyer and seek property on their behalf from across the marketplace.