Online agents take a nibble out of the high street with 61% growth – but still have just 6% of the market

Online agents increased their market share by over 60% at the end of last year while high street agents saw their business dip.

However, despite the sharp rise in online agents’ exchanges, they still started this year with only 6% market share.

The new figures also suggest that almost as many properties were withdrawn from the market as were sold in the final three months of last year. With fall-throughs added in, more deals failed than exchanged.

Analysis by data company TwentyCi – based on sources such as agent and portal property listings and the Land Registry – found that the market share of online agents was 6.06% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, up from 3.76% a year before, an increase of 61.09%.

In contrast, high street agents saw their market share drop 2.39% to 93.94%.

The figures are only based on exchanges during the fourth quarter of 2017 which show that of 241,975 exchanges at the end of 2017, 227,301 were from high street agents and 14,674 from online.

This compares with a total of 239,652 exchanges in the final quarter of 2016, made up of 230,630 from high street agents and 9,022 from the onliners.

The data also suggests exchanges were up 1% year on year in the fourth quarter, with average house prices increasing annually to £298,000.

The volume of new property listings on the market was also up 2.2% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period last year, with a slight dip in price, the report showed.

On a regional basis, Wales was the only region to have experienced an increase in property exchanges during the fourth quarter, up 5% to 13,215, also the highest annual increase at 11%, while the north-east was at the bottom of the tables with a 4% annual drop to 9,156 exchanges.

During the quarter there were 242,000 exchanges and 243,000 properties sold subject to contract, but there were also 224,000 withdrawn from the market and 54,000 fell through.

When it comes to the type of buyer, the report also found the over-65s, dubbed the “silver economy”, had 31% more exchanges annually in the fourth quarter, while millennials – those aged 18 to 35 – had 17% fewer.

Colin Bradshaw, chief customer officer at TwentyCi, said: “After the turbulence that followed the Brexit vote in 2016, we’re seeing a much calmer landscape for the UK housing market.

“We are not seeing any seismic shifts year-on-year and the huge spikes in house prices that we’ve seen in recent years appear to have stabilised.

“The good news is that we’re seeing a marked increase in people at every stage of the home mover process, from the initial stages of planning, right through to completion, demonstrating positive movement year-on-year despite the slow economy.”


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  1. Simon Bradbury

    I have still to hear a satisfactory definition of an “online” estate agent – even Purplebricks claim to be a “hybrid”. Consequently these statistics really are almost meaningless.

    That said, 6% of the total market is hardly a seismic shift is it?

    1. AgencyInsider

      Didn’t the Quirkster predict online would have taken over the world by now?

      1. Robert May

        He predicted online agency would reach a tipping point of 16% (266% more than it is now) during 2016 ( that’s the year before last) I’d have to look it up but I think the claimed market share when the prediction was made (2013) stood at 5%

        It should be noted that several agencies are apparently having ongoing issues with their CRM systems that somehow doubles  up some listings, trebles others, quad and quintuples  occasional others.  Unfortunately whilst those most unfortunate duplications might bolster a market share report they tend play havoc with completion statistics.


        From 2014… “Mr Quirk started eMoov two years ago, and in that time his and other similar businesses have grown rapidly – but still only account for 5pc of the market. But the estate agent-turned-entrepreneur forecasts in his business plan that digital agencies will form 40pc to 50pc of the industry by 2018. It was the strength of this conviction that enabled him to attract backing from James Caan, a former investor on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den”


    2. Trevor Mealham

      Agree Simon. Aren’t ALL agents online now its 2018. Maybe 94% are not. …..

    3. Thomas Flowers

      Surely a ‘PROPER’ estate agent offers no sale, no fee as this is what sellers came to expect and had benefitted from since around 1987?

      The real disruption to the market is allowing others to play on the long-held perception of this fee model?

      A huge backward step that 10,000s of users who failed to complete or withdrew are now paying for.

      How many people had to pay a failure fee or two agency fees prior to the call centre ‘disruptors’ fee model?

      If as suggested above that more people lose out than benefit with the pre-paid model then the regulators really ought to insist that all models must offer the choice of no sale, no fee if only to make it more obvious that they may end up paying for a service they do not receive?

      Come on PB you know it makes sense unless you are deliberately misleading your customers with your latest TV advert, again?




      1. Chris Wood

        Personally, I don’t have a problem with an upfront payment system as long as the terms are clearly explained in advance. Going back to the pre-corporate days (pre mid-1980’s) and many agents charged fees for marketing services and expenses plus a commission on sale. In my view, that was a far more sustainable and sensible approach that ensured agents were disincentivised to deliberately overvalue*, incentivised to have a thoroughly detailed knowledge of the services they were actually delivering and, were still incentivised to achieve the best deal for their clients (a fundamental legal and contractual ‘must’ in law).
        Too many agents view property as a commodity like a tin of beans on a shelf. They are not. They are peoples homes. The sale or letting of which has deep and often long-lasting impact on peoples lives; that’s everyone involved: buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. As agents, we have a moral imperative to look after these people in every aspect of our duty of care and contracts, the outcome of which should be a profitable and positive experience for all parties.
        *an offence under the 1979 Estate Agents Act, contrary to the TPO code and, arguably, the Fraud Act (obtaining business by deception)

  2. ArthurHouse02

    Apparently the call centre brigade will have 50% market share or something by 2020….they seem well on target for that. In my opinion they will hit a threshold of no more than 15-20% in the next 10 years and that will be as far as it goes. Despite people comparing the success of Amazon etc to the downfall of the high street and the perceived downfall of high street estate agency the two cannot be compared. Moving home selling is not like buying a new razor….and in general the high street shops failed to move into the online arena quick enough. Traditional estate agents were advertising online long before decent size call centre agents were around.

    This article should state…cheap as chips pay anyway “estate agents” now have only 6% market share, despite spending over £20 million pounds a year on advertising.

  3. Richard104

    I agree with Simon. There is no such thing as an on line agent..or a hybrid. There are just estate agents with different methods and pricing models which has always been the case. What percentage of sellers bought private adverts in newspapers 30 years ago and where are those people now?

  4. Chris Wood

    If these figures are correct it shows, in addition to what Robert May and others state above, that market share figures claimed by various companies over the past few years were false. Some of these claims were made to investors, customers and the press, thereby affecting peoples transactional decisions. These figures back up what many have been saying about false claims made by these companies. The consequences of making false claims in order to secure money or business, if correct,  are severe. The big question is, will any of the regulators/ police take action?

  5. J1

    The real difference will start to show as the on-liners fail to meet their predictions; and the Lexperts get disillusioned about the ratio between hours worked and pennies earned.

    Service levels will falter and the losses will continue.  As the on-liners, or whatever they are called, run out of cash they will have to raise their fees.

    The casualties though are those stuck in the middle, regional and corporate agents,  with high head office overheads and too many noses in the trough, a lack of strategy and falling instruction and fee levels.

    If referral fees go the same way as tenants fees, who knows where this will end.  Who will be brave enough to raise their fees sufficiently in order to survive?

    PS, am getting five emails a day from recruitment companies looking to place disillusioned negs and managers from regional, corporate and on-line agents.  No money in this game at the moment, some might say.

  6. ChumpExecutive

    At the risk of abuse, I’m proposing a definition of an “on-line” agent (I think I own one, but maybe I don’t!)

    – Customers can transact live business with the agent 24/7

    – The business model does not require high street premises in order to function.

    Am I missing anything?

    What is true, is that traditional high street agents are now effectively extending their opening hours through “live chat”, call overspill and some on-line valuation and viewing booking functionality. However, their business processes still rely upon groups of people coming together in physical high street offices and while this is the case they are not “on-line” agents.

    1. P-Daddy

      Agree ChumpExec, perhaps tweak the first bit, ‘customers can transact live business VIA the agent and their website…allows for the direct viewing arrangements and remote offers that some offer. i.e. it is via their website, not needing to speak to a human if they do indeed exist in a call centre.

    2. Robert May

      The clarity required is not online/ traditional it is between passive intermediary listing and estate agency.

      One service lists property on the internet at a price determined by the vendor, the lister is free of legal precedents duties and obligations.

      Estate agency has the full legal weight of  contract law (agency) upon it.

      There are good estate agency practices that deal with niche properties, locations and areas that operate successfully without traditional window display premises.

      It is convenient for some firms to want to blur the line as it makes  their pay to list fee compare favourably with a full service agency commission.


    3. Estate_Agent_Memes

      Who would want to transact business at 1am in the week or 7am on a Sunday? Ultimate gimmick. Professional people certainly don’t work these hours and a person in another part of the world taking a call is just basically an answering machine and dealing with a computer program at these ours certainly isn’t transacting business.

      All agents are online, computers and websites advertise properties PEOPLE sell houses.


  7. Bless You

    Only got 6% due to massive misleading adverts on tv and lying on Google AdWords about bring local.

  8. PeeBee


    “We’ve taken the lead position in the online estate agents market – which has doubled its market share every year since 2010,” comments Russell Quirk, CEO.

    From PropertyInsustryEYE May 20 2016.

    “Russell Quirk of eMoov was quick to say “incumbents talk about online is only 5%, but if it’s doubled in two years, then where it could get to in 5-10 years, then I’d be a very happy individual.””

    Sorry Mr Quirkster but your happiness seems to have stalled BIIIIIIG time.

    According to the article – and the two quotations above from the self-appointed ubervocal spokesperson for the ‘online model’ it seems the growth so often gloated about (as per the above) has peaked and now in a state of decline.

    It has apparently taken nineteen months to get from Mr Quirk’s stated 5% to today’s reported 6% – growth of 20%. Do he or anyone else seriously believe that it can make up the numbers to double its’ presence in only five months?

    And of course that already is a weakening of huge proportions, going from 100% YoY growth to only 100% Yo2Y.

    Answers, on a postcard, please…

    Actually – on reflection, “make up the numbers” is probably the most sensible four words I’ve ever posted here…

  9. Property Pundit

    According to a tweet today from Purplebricks: ‘We don’t have branches, but we do have dedicated Local Property Experts all across the country who work to support and advise their vendors through their sale, from start to finish. Therefore we class ourselves as a hybrid estate agency’.

  10. Property Paddy

    can you imagine an online agent offering the hybrid service including viewings etc for £250?

    That would disrupt the market, unless of course their service was 5hite in which case it doesn’t matter what you charge.

    I wonder if that’s why purple dcks are so keen on trustpilot?

  11. ChumpExecutive

    To pick up on Roberts point I’ve been spending time with specialist lawyers looking at an area of law called “sales agency”. This is your classic “Avon Lady” (forgive the sexism) who covers a “territory” and who is supplied with a product to sell. Sales agents run their own business and typically are tied to achieving sales targets (or the agency is taken away from them) but are not tied to hours of work (or they risk being defined as workers with workers rights). The cost of marketing the product is normally met by the brand owner, but all other costs of running the business sit with the sales agent, who can claim generous tax allowances for their home office, car and phone. I can’t help but think that estate agency (albeit its a service) is perfectly suited to a “sales agency” model, as the start up costs are zilch but with the benefits of self-employment. Sales agents would be creating a contract between the customer and the brand owner, but as professionals engaged in delivering a service through their own business they would be personally liable for their competence and integrity.


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