‘Secret breakfast’ to take place as new project looks for £10m-plus funding to future-proof high street agents

A new top-secret venture in estate agency is planning on raising over £10m for a project that will ‘future proof’ high street firms.

Called Project UHA, a “secret breakfast” is being held this Friday in London, with “select” agents invited from across the country.

It is understood they will be signing non-disclosure agreements ahead of the project going live.

The pair behind it are industry consultants Iain White – a former managing director of Romans – and Mal McCallion who now runs Growtion.

With rumours that Project UHA would be an online agency with local Purplebricks-style agents, McCallion said this was emphatically not the case.

He said: “I cannot say too much at this stage, but I can say that we are not an online agent – we are a solution for high street firms to future proof themselves.”

He said that both he and White were passionate about consumers getting the best deal, and making decisions about agents based on proper information.

McCallion said: “Full-service agents are being unfairly maligned, and consumers are being told that the likes of Purplebricks are the answer to everything – but that is only one side of the equation.

“It is a very tough market for high street agents at the moment and challenges to the industry are significant.

“This project is at a very early stage, and we are looking for some significant eight-figure funding.

“We are very serious about this, and the feedback we have had so far has been very encouraging.”

He confirmed that one of the aspects under consideration in Project UHA is whether agents would be given a particular territory in which to operate.

He did not say how many agents will be at Friday’s “secret breakfast” but emphasised again: “The project is going to future-proof the traditional agent.”

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74 Comments

  1. AgentV

    Collective Adaptable Intelligent Marketing is what will future proof full service agency. I really hope this ‘collaborative’ aspect will be part of what is discussed on Friday.

    We are building software products to help in conjunction with Birmingham Innovation Hub and Aston University. I know that funding on a scale a lot less than mentioned in the article…..would help us speed up delivery enormously.

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    1. iainwhite87

      Collaboration is at the very heart if this project 

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      1. AgentV

        Then I would be extremely interested and have numerous ideas to help!

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      2. Stevenharvey42

        This sounds really interesting and I am looking forward to hearing more information!

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      3. PaulWilson32

        If you mind me saying Iain, if collaboration is at its heart then isn’t it therefore a tad ironic that it’s top-secret? Which is further surrounded by irony given its coverage by one of the industry’s leading news sites?

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    2. Bless You

      We need a trade body that can advertise on TV to show people what a massive great big lie the online industry is.

      Online is fine..its the payanyway model we need to squash and quickly.

      If property mark can afford to be on tv then why isnt NAEA or OnTheMarket  etc, helping its members educate the public into why payanyway is such a corrupt model?

      The adverts need to rip the p*ss out of this fake industry..it wouldnt be hard.

       

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      1. AgentV

        The NAEA are not going to help as many of the ‘call centre listers‘ are their members, and the NAEA don’t seem to care about them running down the full service agent’s model.

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        1. Bless You

          Onmarket missing a massive trick  . They could take down rightmove and pb in 1 clever advert.

          I e. You won’t find d.i.y homes on o.m. website cos our members get paid for results..

          I would join them again if they showed me they were a genuine portal for members and not a get rich scheme for city boys looking to sell their shares.

           

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      2. simonh

        Propertymark is NAEA!

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    3. Stevenharvey42

      Really interesting Iain, I cant wait to find out more.

      A solution is certainly needed!

       

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  2. Dorset_Agent365

    I am clearly not a “select” agent!! But I’d like to knwo more about this. Is there a website?

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    1. J1

      it’s a secret

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  3. iainwhite87

    If you are an estate agent and would like to know more follow the link below and we will be in touch

    https://uha2018.typeform.com/to/GtQGzj

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  4. SmartOctopus30

    Interesting. How do you select the invited agents? £10m is serious if it is true! Used for marketing or for technology?

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    1. MalMcC

      Hi SmartOctopus; we’re speaking with agents that are providing the highest level of service in their areas. Spaces are limited – as Ros states, this was supposed to remain “secret” as the other meetings to date have been – which is why we’ve not got around to everyone yet but if you would like to find out more do use Iain’s link.

      The investment (which is considerably more than the £10m stated) is for marketing.

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      1. AgentV

        the highest level of service in their areas

        How are you going to measure this? Hopefully not on volume, which I believe can be a very poor indicator at the best of times (some of our competitors are much better at marketing themselves than we are, but I believe we give a much higher level of service).

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        1. P-Daddy

          Always interesting to see what’s being pitched, however beware…anyone getting involved will need to see the certainty attached to the fighting fund of £10m. But secretive meetings and mystery…be careful! Talk is cheap and there have been so many collaborative businesses over the years, so this isn’t new…..

          Romans is now a long time ago for 1 of the them and he missed out on the big sale and subsequent reinventions as Estate Agent Specialist Ltd and Iain C White Consultants haven’t exactly set the world on fire except an attempt to milk agents venting against OTM The Proptech guru doesn’t seem to have got very far with Callwell and Rater Agent and there’s not much behind his current company.  At least one has given his career to estate agency

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          1. Professor_Veritas

            I attended one of the meetings with very limited expectations but was quite impressed in the end. I was surprised by how many heavyweight agents were in the room. This is exactly what the industry needs right now.

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          2. iainwhite87

            P-Daddy happy to discuss with you direct both the project and your views in general.

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            1. P-Daddy

              Getting agents to be collaborative in an industry that is notorious for being akin to herding cats is not a thing for me. There is no golden bullet, except endeavour and being the best you can be. In a sales environment, everyone will look after themselves first…whether they work for a company where they are expected to, so loads of individuals…..

              Dragons Den…’I won’t be investing and I’m out’

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  5. smile please

    These guys ever stick with anything longer than 5 minutes?

    No doubt it will be the most amazing thing ever …… Until they walk away.

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    1. iainwhite87

      That’s a little unfair in 35 years in agency I have been involved in 3 projects ? 

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      1. smile please

        More aimed at Mal.
        Also i would think twice entering into a project with you Iain, Your “Action Group” did not sit well with me. 

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  6. MalMcC

    Hi smiler,  good to hear from you! Why not register as yourself for an invitation? Then you can see exactly why Iain and I are building this for the long term and why it’s got so much traction with great agents already. Would be really nice to get to chat with you face to face too

    https://uha2018.typeform.com/to/GtQGzj

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    1. smile please

      Sorry Mal.
      There is a very small list i would never want to work with. You sadly are on that list. Nothing i can see you have been involved in fills me with any confidence.
      Your exchanges on here regarding ‘RaterAgent’ and the tosh you came out with just reinforces my thoughts.
      How much of your pesonal money is within the £10 million you will invest? Other peoples money? Very easy to spend money. Not so easy to earn it.
      I would wish you well but it would be a lie.
       

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      1. MalMcC

        That’s a real shame. I do wish you well, genuinely. 

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  7. Property Paddy

    I’ve been in this business since 1981. I don’t think PB are a real threat to the high street agent, however high street agents don’t in general:

    operate a 24 hour business

    Offer a low upfront option

    a centralised marketing and customer support centre

    a centralised legal/sales progression department

    share data between agents (new laws notwithstanding)

    Obviously if you are a large multi branch you can do all these things but small independents cant and therefore have higher cost base.

     

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    1. AgentV

      But if small independents had great new software developed to help!!!!!

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      1. P-Daddy

        Why haven’t you raised funds or sold the idea to one of these Proptech ventures?

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        1. AgentV

          Because I want to make sure it is small independents that benefit….not the call centre listers.
          Also products in development are much more capable of ‘fund raising’ when they are finished which is why we are working on them currently with Birmingham Innovation Hub attached to Aston University.
          Had to get past a presentation to three ‘dragon’ mentors to get accepted into the ‘start up’ incubator hub.

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          1. Property Paddy

            you probably want a board company locked in too with a website for extra marketing particuarly if OTM are droping the one other portal rule. And a money penny style service.

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    2. MalMcC

      Thanks Paddy. The points you raise have been some of the main drivers for this new project

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      1. Property Paddy

        I thought of all this in 1985

        See how fast I move ?

        LOL

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      2. Property Paddy

        worth looking at optihome france very succesful there as a hybrid but with all the above plus invoice factoring too, would work well with UK independants I think

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  8. J1

    This sounds very interesting.

    Geared to providing the polar opposite of PB, we are finding that we are gaining ground on traditional high street agents, and not losing out to the on-liners.

    The casualties will be medium sized regional agents and the struggling corporates, both with high central overheads.

    The smaller, better, agents will survive if they can raise their fees a little and innovate.

    I am not sure there is one solution to fit with every high street agent, so who are they aiming for?

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  9. dompritch134

    Secret breakfast, yet has an article broadcasting the fact and responding to all in an industry comments section.

    Pretty amusing really.

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    1. AgencyInsider

      Totally agree with you dompritch. Now there’s a first 😉

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    2. MalMcC

      Hi dompritch; when Ros phones on a Friday afternoon knowing all about your project despite NDA’s, you have to choose either to answer questions or try and keep it hidden. We’ve had a number of secret meets already so it seemed best to come clean – then be as helpful as poss to anyone wanting to know more in these comments.

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  10. wardy

    I wouldn’t eat a secret breakfast. I like to know whats in my sausages.

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    1. AgencyInsider

      Classic Wardy 🙂 We don’t see you often enough on these pages!

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  11. LettingsGuru199778

    It’s a bit of a joke now, as every person in the industry tries to set up an online agency.

    The only models that seem to be working are PurpleBricks, HouseSimple, and Home Made.

     

    All the others are living of investors’ money (e.g. YOPA getting family money, eMoov bagging for money for 18 months before they persuaded someone to add cash, etc)

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  12. Curious george

    I would like to invest £500,000, where do i sign up??

     

    and lads please dont say ‘its a secret’

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    1. AgentV

      Send us an email to in@agentv.co.uk
      ……sorry did you mean to invest in someone else?

      Report
  13. PeeBee

    SO…

    A “Top Secret” meeting… NDAs signed in blood…  agents that are providing the highest level of service in their areas.

    But apparently NOT those that can keep a “Top Secret”.

    OR… some might think this is a case of what seems to be the ‘new way’ of getting your message out… spring a leak before it springs naturally.

    Oh – add to the mix a first-time poster taking the time to register and post that he/she was present at one of the previous meetings and came away from it all warm and fuzzy-like.  We’ve never seen that before either – have we? 

    It’s all a bit too ‘Open Letter’-esque, I would suggest.  And more than a bit ‘Whistleblower’-ish.

    Which are things that Mr White has been quite keen on in past, if memory serves me well…

    Time will tell, I guess – but I’m pretty certain that our industry needs this offering, and CILLA, like a bad dose of sideways-crawling nad-sac nibblers

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    1. iainwhite87

      An interesting theory PeeBee, I always enjoy reading your comments. 

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      1. PeeBee

        Then you’ll know, Mr White – I only speak as I find… and my thoughts are far from unique.

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        1. iainwhite87

          Wouod Be good to avail you of the project in full so you can speak as you find from a potion of knowing the full picture.
          either way I do enjoy many of your posts both here and on social media.

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          1. PeeBee

            You know where I am, Sir!

            Please take this email as my NDA.

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            1. AgencyInsider

              What be this ‘potion of knowing the full picture’ of which he speaks? Methinks that here is witchery and wizardry at play. Burn them!

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            2. iainwhite87

              actually PeeBee I don’t know where or indeed who you are ?

               

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              1. cyberduck46

                Isn’t it obvious?

                 

                PeeBee -> PB -> PurpleBricks

                 

                 

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                1. PeeBee

                  Oh, ducky – that doesn’t even register a tremor on the Pathetic Scale.

                  How’s about you do what the tax man can do with his demand…

                  …and stick your unwanted bill right up your chuff.

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              2. PeeBee

                Sorry – should have drawn you a clearer picture.

                I was referring to your stated enjoyment of my Tw@tterings.

                You know where I am in that respect, at least.

                Failing that you could always check your ‘registration’ InBox – I would have expected at least a ‘holding response’ by now – an email acknowledgement of my interest as an absolute minimum.

                Shame, really…

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                1. J1

                  Didn’t get a reply either – obviously not good enough after 30+ years of being amazing 🙁

                   

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                2. PeeBee

                  **UPDATE**

                  Received a holding message at 6.57 yesterday evening (some 11 hours after doing what Mr White suggested and following the link).

                  Received a further email 30 minutes ago from Mr White stating that as “you haven’t supplied the required information”, I won’t be receiving an invitation to attend Friday’s meeting.

                  I hadn’t requested an invite.

                  Above, Mr White cast the hook:

                  “If you are an estate agent and would like to know more follow the link below and we will be in touch”

                  It seems in this instance that that the hook has no bait.

                  So… I’ll simply swim past.

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              3. PeeBee

                “actually PeeBee I don’t know where or indeed who you are ?”
                Both of which are irrelevant.

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  14. AgentV

    MalMcC
    the highest level of service in their areas
    How are you going to measure this? Hopefully not on volume, which I believe can be a very poor indicator at the best of times (some of our competitors are much better at marketing themselves than we are, but I believe we give a much higher level of service).
    So how are you going to judge?

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    1. iainwhite87

      AgentV
       
      We would love to talk wth any Agency owners who believe their service and results are outstanding. 

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      1. AgentV

        We will register…Like I said, we have been working on ideas for two years that may help a lot (in@agentv.co.uk)

        when are you contacting people back? 

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    2. PeeBee

      “How are you going to measure this?”

      Bit of a rhetorical question there, AV – seeing as the agents were ‘measured’ apparently some time ago. 

      This is the ‘n’th #Secret Meeting – so you can quite confidently scratch yourself off the list of those they are considering. 

      Who knows – you could be on the list of TWDMIFTA.  So could I, for that matter.

      I’m sure that the more cynical of us will have come to their own conclusions as to how the list of potentials was populated.

      My guess is that not one of the 92 people I’d hope and expect to see on a list of The Great And Good of our industry are gonna be there.

      Like all things – time will tell.

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  15. Sunbeam175

    Maybe the independents need to come up with tv advertising highlighting the CONmisey created by Purplebricks. Maybe where two chaps are talking in the office and one says he has had to withdraw his property from the market due to illness/job uncertainty/lost the one he wanted etc. His colleague says “I hope your not on the markets with Purplebricks are you.” And he responds with “ah yes CONmisery I’ve lost £1199” and maybe tips a bottle of milk over his head! We need the independents to highlight collectively the downsides (which there are plenty) of online clowns. AllAgents.co.uk is a great tool to suggest that vendors look at ‘prior’ to choosing an agent. 9% of the vendors that have had the misfortune of using Purplebricks would recommend them! Enough said!

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    1. AgentV

      Totally agree with Collective Marketing for independents, but I would put more emphasis on the advantages of using a Full Service agent, rather than directly slating any Call Centre Lister competition. Better to sell the ‘WHY‘ rather than concentrating on the ‘WHY NOT TO’!

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      1. iainwhite87

        Our thoughts are aligned to yours

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  16. C Perdios

    Will be refreshing to have an organisation which promotes good Agency regardless of online or traditional . Educating the public on the benefits of traditional Agency whilst also safeguarding against the growing trend of online can only be a good thing . From the snippets of information I’ve heard project UHA certainly does bring a new proposition to the market which is extremely interesting and unique . Certainly one to watch out for !

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  17. KentAgent81

    As always, the devil is in the details, but certainly sounds like an interesting proposition – after all, aspects of the industry need to change. How do I find out more info please chaps?

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    1. MalMcC

      Hi KentAgent81; we’re here to do that and details will be forthcoming on Friday. Do register your interest here – https://uha2018.typeform.com/to/GtQGzj.

      Report
  18. smile please

    Let me guess how this will play out,

    1. Get a lot of other people’s money.

    2. Rehash a previous idea

    3. Say it is new and innovative.

    4. Ask for more money by way of further investment / subscription.

    5. When its not working as expected, say there are further developments in the pipeline.

    6 Talk about relaunching the idea.

    7. Blame others that it did not work out.

    8. Try and merge with similar competitors idea.

    9. Walk away

    10. Repeat the previous steps.

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  19. SmartOctopus30

    Smile please – have you done this before?:) you clearly know the detailed steps.

    Guys, can we act like adults?

    I agree something needs to be done, especially as a marketing response. And at least these guys are thinking of doing something and not just wasting time on moaning about PB.

    Any serious agencies who joined or plan to join this project?

    I agree with some comments here- devil is in detail. How does the selection process work? Is the money committed? How will they spend the money?

    I am registered for more info…

     

     

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  20. EASPORTS84

    This is interesting I’m surprised nothing has already been done. The online model is massively based on cpc to get their leads if every agent starts bidding against them in their local areas which would amount to couple of grand a month depending on patch it would push up the cpc and push up their margins right now the likes of pb and yopa are paying around £240 to get a valuation from the cpc.

    They only convert around 60-70 % of the vals they get and the LPA gets £200ish not leaving a huge amount of revenue.

    As more online agents emerge the cpc will continue to rise and they are all bidding against each other and spending millions on tv adds if corporates and independents start bidding against them as well it won’t be long until they have to start increasing fees which ruins the model.

    Problem is lots of investors see the rise of pb and want to be on the next gravy train so think it will continue for a while longer.

     

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    1. AgentV

      The real secret is to create ‘word of mouth recommendation’ en masse;

      Collective Adaptive Intelligent Marketing……….     in@agentv.co.uk

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  21. geentom36

    First time poster long time browser – number of comments on this piqued my interest and some of the comments here are something else.  I know nothing about these breakfasts and I’m sure I’m not the kind of outfit that they are looking for as a new venture myself – but the level of cynicism and personal attacks by some is pretty poor. As an industry we need new initiatives or we will stagnate. This may be a good one it may not, nobody knows yet, but finding out and taking an informed view can’t be a bad thing. Instead we get trolls, personal comments and some guy trying to shamelessly hijack a thread with his own agenda. If this is all smoke and no fire we will all find out soon enough but for all our sakes can we try and be a bit more grown up as an industry?

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    1. PeeBee

      Jeez…

      Maybe we’re just all a bit ‘Doubting Thomas’; that the Inner Cynic in us is on DEFCON5 – or maybe just that years and years of bitter industry experience has developed in us a radaresque sense of incoming billshut from the snake-oil salespeople and ‘industry gurus’ all claiming to have baked the new ‘Hovis’ and wanting us all to invest… A Slice For A Price.

      Your posts – like all others – are welcomed, greentom36. Who knows – maybe you’re right and we’re all sadly, badly wrong – but I’m playing it my way and will survive, thrive, or wither away of my own doing.

       

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  22. Walker_McCoy

    Hands up anyone who doesn’t think MalMcC isn’t capable of engineering a timely leak to EYE!

    As for the ones saying give them a chance wasn’t Iain White one of those who was actively orchestrating the attempted derailment of On the market?

    http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/40-agency-business-fund-legal-action-agents-mutual-claim/

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  23. PeeBee

    Anyone care to “leak” how the ‘secret breakfast’ went?

    Report
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