Online agents have given high street firms a kicking – but industry figure says the ‘moaning’ must stop

Industry consultant Christopher Watkin says that high street agents have had a long overdue kick up the backside delivered by the arrival of online firms.

He says that the industry had become lazy order-takers and that they should stop moaning about online agents.

In a new video, he also says that agents are wrong to keep talking about their online rivals, whose market share is, he says, just 5%.

Instead of fixating on online agents, he says high street firms should concentrate on winning over the remaining 95% of the market.

What do you think?

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  1. Simon Bradbury

    Interesting video and I agree with the main point – but is it really true that Purplebricks on their own have as much as 5% of the UK market? I thought that this was the estimate of the TOTAL ( so – called ) “online agent” market share and that Purplebricks were the biggest players within that sector with a UK market share of significant;y less than that overall 5% as a company.

    Could somebody clarify please?

    1. Bless You

      Hey,!  We are concentrating on what matters,,We are also having to police this new  lying online industry that seems to have thrown the ethics, and just plain honesty books out of the window. 
      I am more dissapointed in ASA, Trustpilot etc etc who have allowed their names to become laughing stocks by supporting this whole new industry. 

  2. Chris Wood

    The total for the whole call-centre sector after pumping in millions is 4% and has been fairly static for some months. Not what I’d call a kicking.

  3. Simon Bradbury

    HI Chris,

    Thanks for that.

    So I would imagine that the Purplebricks share of that total market might actually be around 2% (ish) and not 5% as alluded to in the video.

    I totally agree with Christopher Watkin’s main point about concentrating on what our potential clients really want and need instead of focusing and constantly criticising PB – I just like to base my viewpoint on facts as much as possible.

  4. julianodell

    The Financial Times reported in January that analysts put PB market share at 2.1% with other “onliners” collectively standing at 1.3%. This seems the most recent report of any credibility although our firm TM  training & development have carried out rudimentary market share assessments for some of our estate agency client firms and the overall total market share for the “online” agents hovers around 5% (albeit that PB have the biggest number within that total).

    Eye reported some time ago that as of 2015, “high street” agency branch numbers had risen to 25,485 and despite well-documented closures, there have been plenty who have opened since then, suggesting the figure won’t be far different now. Land Registry also reported recently that total residential sales completions across England and Wales were south of 1 million. Thus, despite the stats quoted, the challenges highlighted in this video are actually arguably worse than described.

    It worries me that traditional estate agents are playing into the hands of their new rivals by failing to promote and follow the key differentiators that truly improve clients’ journeys and outcomes. Diligent applicant qualification, high level skills and proactive creative selling approach, effective accompanied viewings and exceptional sales progression must be integral to any agent’s culture if they are to survive and thrive in 2017 and beyond.

    These are what we train agents to adhere to but our mystery shopping and consultancy work reveal the principles to be absent in many, many cases.

    For those failing to up their game, as the song goes…”There may be trouble ahead…”

    1. Trevor Mealham

      It worries me that traditional estate agents are playing into the hands of their new rivals by failing to promote and follow the key differentiators 
      Well said

  5. cyberduck46

    I think some agents don’t realise what the public perception is. Unless you are an investor you don’t sit around listening to financial radio shows or reading company statements. I can’t imagine many read the articles on websites like this even.


    It seems that some agents are obsessive about PurpleBricks, moaning about things nobody in the public would even be bothered about or even understand the relevance of.


    People turn off when they hear people moaning about things they consider trivial. Then when there’s something real to moan about nobody’s listening.



    1. Chris Wood

      I would suggest that those agents who have who have demonstrably mislead the public (various ASA rulings and claim of qualified agents) and may possibly be breaking the law in the way they operate, are very much of interest to those agents customers and, the investors who wish to invest ethically in companies that have a sustainable future with good management who do not put their investment at risk by courting potential consumer actions.

      1. cyberduck46

        I think you are talking about a very small number of people. I really don’t think hardly anybody is interested in the things you are mentioning other than Estate Agents who are preoccupied with PurpleBricks. How many people are even going to listen to a competitor? 
        How many people are interested if somebody ‘may be’ breaking the law. I’ve certainly not seen any prosecutions so I tend to think most people would think it’s a matter of opinion whether laws are being broken.
        I’m sure there are many ASA rulings that these agents who appear to be obsessed with PurpleBricks don’t make a big fuss about. I’m not even sure there have been any rulings in relation to PurpleBricks, never mind various ones.

        Presumably you have a pension. Do you know how it’s invested? Have you checked out all the companies? Or is it just PurpleBricks that interests you?
        You appear to put the interests of investors high on your list but when I asked you for information you wanted to charge me $500 an hour. 
        I have seen a comment from an Estate Agent “I think there are bigger fish to fry at the moment; there are plenty of High Street agents actively over valuing to win instructions, duping clients into 5 month sole agency contracts. There are more who are clearly conditionally selling to purchasers who will agree to use their in house mortgage consultants. Others who will put their own avarice first by sidelining cash purchasers in favour of those who will be using in house services. Until this industry puts its own house in order bleating on about online / hybrid agents will simply fall on deaf ears with the general public. Quite simply the public wants choice, it is up to High Street agents to justify the genuine value of their charges”
        Do you not agree? Even if your opinion in regard to PurpleBricks had any merit, do you not agree there are more important things in life and for that matter, even in the Estate Agent industry?

        1. Mark Walker

          ‘I’ve certainly not seen any prosecutions so I tend to think most people would think it’s a matter of opinion whether laws are being broken.’

          There’s an article on here EVERY week, including TODAY, where rogue agents abscond with money and prosecutions follow.

          Just because you bury your head in the sand to stick to your own narrative, does not begin to make it a fact in the real world.  

          1. cyberduck46

            Hi Mark,
            I was referring to PurpleBricks and some Agents’ obsession with them. So you’ve used my quote out of context. 
            Pretty much what the article is about and if you read the quote from the agent above in my post they would seem to agree.

        2. Chris Wood

          I don’t agree that any agent of any business model should be allowed to mislead consumers or break the law/ rules we are governed by as agents. You appear to believe otherwise. As I’ve said to you before, we are unlikely to agree. 

          1. cyberduck46

            Chris, you’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say agents should be allowed to break the law & mislead. I think the industry needs to be sorted out, starting with the bigger issues like overvaluing to win instructions.
            The only people who can determine whether laws are being broken are the courts. Even their decisions are subject to appeal. So the agents who suspect illegal behaviour should report to those who prosecute rather than repeatedly speculate over what they think is illegal which in a lot of cases is probably due to a lack of understanding of the law and is just wishful thinking.
            Normal people aren’t interested and if they were initially they would have turned off very quickly, especially as most of it is innuendo based on speculation coming from competitors of PurpleBricks who have demonstrated bias. There have never been any legal cases that have gone against PurpleBricks but plenty of accusations. What does that tell us?
            There’s one agent there who tweets negative PurpleBricks reviews on Trustpilot but none of the positive ones. Does that not seem a little obsessive and biased? Wouldn’t an investor or a member of the public looking at these things think that other things they say are likley to be biased?
            Others make claims of illegality but nothing ever happens. Doesn’t that raise questions about bias and understanding of what is actually against the law?
            I explained to you in a private conversation that individuals can bring private criminal prosecutions. Why don’t you do this rather than moan about it? Put money where your mouth is if you’re so sure that laws are being broken.

  6. Headache

    Consultants to be replaced by Algorithms to avoid fake news.

  7. Simon Bradbury

    Christopher may or may not have a good point to make (and I think he does) – but his weight and the location of his video are totally irrelevant. By reducing the level of debate to such personal  ( and frankly not even amusing ) insults you are merely acknowledging the weakness in your own arguments and the inability to be able to advocate your position on the basis of facts.
     I would respectfully suggest that you should apologise and withdraw that comment.


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