Questions wanted for conference debate

Agents are being asked to submit ideas for questions to be asked during a debate on the subject of online versus high street.

The Big Debate will be held as part of the Future: Property Tech conference to be held at Millbank Tower in Westminster, London, on October 14.

Panelists for the debate will be Alex Bailes, chief digital officer at Countrywide, eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk, and Michael Bruce, chief executive of Purplebricks. It will be moderated by Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Home Owners Alliance.

Agents are asked to submit questions in the EYE comment section below this story and also to email them to event organiser Gary Chimwa at

The one-day conference will feature more than 30 expert speakers, including headline speaker housing minister Brandon Lewis, who will address delegates on how the government plans to leverage technology to improve the property sector. Lewis will also take part in a Q&A following his keynote address.

The conference forms part of a series of events designed to build a technology focused property community (PropTech). It will cover both the residential and commercial sectors with separate stages dedicated to providing tailored content and expertise, with the first stage focused on residential online agencies and the second on commercial and retail.

Other speakers include Savills’ Yolande Barnes, Rajeev Nayyar of Fixflo, Mary Criebardis of PiLabs and JLL’s James Brown.

The event will be hosted by Vanessa Warwick and Nick Tadd, founders of Property Tribes, as well as James Dearsley, and will be held at Altitude 360, Millbank Tower.

The event is delivered by London-based Metropolitan Events. Tickets are available from £95 + VAT here

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  1. agency negotiation limited

    Please explain the business model that charges a fixed fee of under £1000 for a process that could take anything from 5 hours to 50 hours to complete. The time management breakdown should include the preparation required to gain instructions, market the instruction, arrange viewings, negotiate offers and subsequent dealings with solicitors etc. For those online agencies with local based negotiators to pay, is the gp sufficient without the need to pressure vendors into additional services?

    1. singing agent

      We’ve had a few complex cases this year that have taken over 150 hours to get to completion, due to fall throughs, unknowledgeable trustees, awkward solicitors and one instance of a mortgage surveyors down valuing by over 10% without justification.  None of these sales would have got to the finishing line with an internet agent.  Sales are generally taking three weeks longer to get to completion than 20 or 30 years ago and that is with our professional assistance.

  2. Woodentop

    With on-line agents going all out to close down High Street agents, how are those customers not on the internet going to be provided a service.

    1. Gump

      BOOM! That right there, end of conference, go home

      1. PeeBee

        SOMETIMES, Gump, I like you! ;o)

  3. smile please

    I would contribute but with the companies / individuals involved with a heavy bias on online offerings all we will get is politician answers promoting online offerings and giving them more airtime.

    Another publication has recently run a Q & A with a portal, all carefully engineered answers looking to put a positive spin on their company.

    Have some real life individuals with opinion and not just looking to endorse their company / franchise and maybe an interviewer with some balls pushing them for real answers so maybe it can be taken seriously.

  4. Simpson50

    We consistently hear that online agencies can pass on savings due to a lack of high street premises.

    As an established agent working within 25 miles of central London, total costs for our own high street premises equate to around 8% of our total out-goings per annum (rent, rates, electric)- a relatively small proportion of our total costs. Our main costs are incurred on the quality of people we employ and the salaries we need to pay to retain those individuals for ourselves to remain a successful agency capable of offering a highly intensive and fully engaged service to our clients from start to finish.

    In a market place where we are taking an average of 12-15 instructions a month with an average fee currently of 1.15% + VAT – we are quite successful but are no millionaires.

    Where therefore, are the real shortcuts taken to allow an online agency to charge sometimes only a small fraction of the fee that we charge. Savings on high street premises are clearly a rather obvious smoke screen to the real shortcuts and compromises that the online agencies have to incur to have any chances of remaining profitable for the money they charge?

    Online agency is clearly a numbers game; in a business with so many variables and therefore uncertainties as to the extent of service and therefore the costs which may be required to achieve a successful outcome, and these agencies by their very nature can never hope to offer the depth of relevant knowledge, experience, and the hands-on and fully engaged involvement that a good high street estate agent can provide.

    Online agencies can undoubtedly more easily detach themselves from any poor standards of service they provide when compared to their good quality high street equivalent, as they aren’t answerable in anything like the same way, to a local community in which negative comments are quickly “networked” within that area regarding that agent’s performance, and with a high proportion of local people relating to that company, even down to the individuals who work there who are often familiar local faces and personalities within the area in which they operate; the feeling of accountability with an online agency is severely diminished as that agency is more often than not physically detached from the implications of under performing, especially with some of the larger online agencies which cover the whole of the UK. Done a terrible job – never mind – lets move on to the next property 35 miles away and no-one will be any he wiser!!


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