Foxtons’ strength has become its weak spot – and it must change, say experts

Foxtons was the first residential agency to go through a digital transformation – but the firm’s bespoke system is now its weak spot.

The claim comes from proptech experts Eddie Holmes and James Dearsley – who worked at Foxtons for five years.

They say that in the early 2000s, Foxtons built its own system, BOS, making it the most efficient, finely tuned estate agency in the country.

“Combined with a sprinkling of talented individuals and a ruthless culture, an amazing business grew to dominate London.

“The internal mechanics allowed the salespeople to focus on just one thing – speaking to customers and doing deals. Not even national TV exposés could halt the juggernaut.”

But, say the pair, Foxtons need to transform again or risk huge challenges ahead.

The same systems that were set up are now “in danger of becoming the albatross around Foxtons’ neck”, the pair claim.

They say that because BOS is a closed system, no one outside Foxtons can easily integrate with it. That rules out partnerships, for example, with Fixflo, leaving Foxtons at a competitive disadvantage.

The pair conclude: “Foxtons, the original PropTech agency who led with the innovation, must start looking forward, embracing innovation and ally it to the best of their past strategies.

“Their current approach will not serve them well in the future London property market and that will hurt shareholder value.

“We also know that the market isn’t solely to blame for Foxton’s ills. LSL-owned Marsh and Parsons’ recent results prove that Foxtons are under-performing.

“If Foxtons don’t make a change then they may, in fact, find themselves buried by start-ups.”

Property Anatomy – Foxtons

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  1. industryview17

    Interesting comments about the Foxtons system: this means they have a big ship to turnaround there and we know how slowly big ships manoeuvre.

    That said, comparing their results against LSL a company that only made 8% on turnover and Marsh & Parsons at 10.8% does seem rather harsh on Foxtons.

    1. jamesdearsley

      You are absolutely right Industryview17 and that is part of the challenge with Foxtons (and others) as the consumer attitudes and behavior evolve.  A challenging but fascinating time.

  2. JAM01

    Blaming the market is too easy. In tougher markets, the best still do well. They can respond quickly. What worked last year may not work this year. Skilled personnel adapt quickly.

    It comes down to great Branch Managers, working closely with their Regional/Area Managers, recognising what is going on, responding and making it happen.

    People need to take far more responsibility for their results, rather than blaming conditions. The best always win their UNFAIR share of any market.

  3. PF21

    FFS what has it to do with the likes of James Dearsley, who does this idiot think he is the “GOD” of estate Agents?

    Just because he had worked at Foxtons for five years does not give him the right to speak about their business. I think if I were Foxtons I would be seeking action against him as they are a publicly quoted company and comments such as these could be damaging and are said without proper foundation or proof.

    The mans an a rse. There are many reasons Foxtons are not doing so well and if the industry was honest with itself they will know and agree…..

    It’s not for the likes of a jumped up little “prop tech man” to try and tell a PLC company what they are doing wrong.

    I guess Mr Dearsley is as rich as Mr Foxton then, I doubt ut somehow.

    1. jamesdearsley

      Thanks for the comments PF21 (if a little harsh at points perhaps)

      If you read the full article it is more of concern for Foxtons rather than being damaging. I was there right at the start of the huge system change and it was fascinating and I still very positive to much of what they do as a firm.

      However, they (as others) are facing very challenging times and there needs to be an evolution. They were so early in the digital transformation of real estate – partly why they are still so strong today – that I am suggesting they need to do it again for the next evolution of the market place.

      Kind regards

      “jumped up little prop tech man” 😉

      1. Bless You

        haha,, writing back ,,love it… My feeling is Rightmove is Foxtons biggest problem. The days of working hard are now gone becuase the public perception is ‘as long as your on rightmove your house will sell’. I think Jon Hunt called it at the right time. The industry has been a shambles since 2007 crash.  And now govt. supports non profit making companies like pb, instead of thinking about tax receitps, its not going to get easier.

        1. Robert May

          If you’re in the trouser holding up supply industry and are perceived to only sell red braces rather than blue ones, black ones, belts and binder twine it follows that if red brace wearers are up against it then whatever tech you throw at the problem sales of red braces won’t improve.

          I was looking at some numbers earlier in the year and spotted Foxtons numbers stood out as  different from their competitors. It’s not the tech that’s the problem but the niche market within a confined local market that’s against them right now.

          Getting a new system won’t help Foxton’s with the challenges they face, looking at who they sell for/to and how is the thing to review.


  4. Peter

    Maybe Foxtons should consider upgrading to Jupix!

  5. seenitall

    Having an older designed IT system does not in itself cause an issue I would suggest.  its tried and tested and as most would I hope agree EA is about people and good service.     Talking to people, being nice, being helpful, giving honest and good advice, good service & working hard.

    Sure linking in to fixflop or whatknot may help shave off some time in the process but if the process is not good to start with it doesnt matter about anything else at all.



    1. jamesdearsley

      Absolutely Seenitall which is why it is as much about the people as it is technology itself.

      At the end of the day any technology we use needs to consider the end user (agent or client) at all times.

  6. aSalesAgent

    Do Eddie Holmes and James Dearsley happen to have some proptech or services to sell/offer Foxtons that would fix this supposed problem?

    1. jamesdearsley

      Fair point aSalesAgent but whilst we do look at how corporates and their need to evolve, I am not sure this is something Foxtons would be interested in thus wasn’t the intention. Rather that it is an interesting case for others to learn from.

  7. Jackson57

    James Dearsley
    Digital Transformation Specialist, helping firms looking to the future for their marketing and business processes

  8. Reallllyyy59

    Foxtons had Fixflo features a good five years ago when I left, not the mobile picture issue reporting selector but then, call me cynical, doesn’t every smartphone have an email!? “my boiler is broken, please fix, you have the keys”

    By writing their own code the expense is there once and never again, reducing the cost base over time and making it more profitable, ownership beats subscription.

    67 branches with a turnover of ~ £120million = £1.8 million/branch

    Marsh and Parsons 29 branches with a turnover of ~£16million = £570k/branch.

    Hmm how exactly does this prove Foxtons are underperforming??????


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