Why independent agents are in a different league from corporates in so many places

When it comes to corporates versus independents, the easy winners are independents, with the corporates performing “really poorly”.

A new article by Russell Quirk, founder of Emoov and who now runs a property PR company, claims that in any town it is an “absolute exception for a corporate giant to be the number one agent” based on their SSTC performance.

Quirk analysed ten towns and cities (Brentwood, Hastings, Lowestoft, Maidenhead, Huddersfield, Lincoln, Bedford, Exeter, Salisbury and Darlington), evaluating every agent in each.

If you ask why these places were chosen, Brentwood made the cut because it’s Quirk’s home town. The others were chosen by Lilly, his ten-year old daughter, sticking nine pins randomly into a map.

In every single case bar one independent agents came not just first, but second and third. The single exception was Maidenhead, where Roger Platt (part of Connells Group) led the way.

Quirk asks: “Why are the big boys (and girls) so, so lacklustre? Why are they wholeheartedly trounced by the little guy?

“Why, pound for pound, is the local entrepreneur smashing the grey suits in their Milton Keynes office blocks?”

He speculates that independents have a greater need for survival and keep grafting because they have to – unlike the 9-5 corporate salary takers.

They’re also closer to the local ground, care about the competition, and want to prove they’re the best.

They also want to earn more than the £20,000 corporate basic plus 5% office commission – and they like the freedom. Plus better cars than a corporate fleet offers.

Quirk concludes: “Am I saying that managers and negs that work for Reeds Rains, William H Brown and Abbotts are terrible people, lazy and uninspired? No. I’ve met a few and most are fine people.

“What I am saying is that there is a particular type of person that starts, owns and runs an independent estate agency business and they… well, they are just in a different league altogether. And the data proves it.”

The full piece is here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/all-estate-agencies-same-russell-quirk/

Town Biggest Agent (SSTC) Ind or Corp Market Share Avg SSTC of all stock (town) % SSTC of stock (each agent) %
Brentwood Beresfords Ind 26.9% 39.6 44.9
Hastings PCM Ind 29.0 45.2 43.9
Lowestoft Paul Hubbard Ind 37.3 49.5 57.0
Maidenhead Roger Platt Corp 26.6 35.2 37.1
Huddersfield Bramleys Ind 13.3 34 45.5
Lincoln Mundys Ind 17.9 31 30.9
Bedford James Kendall Ind 7.1 34.7 52.9
Exeter Fraser & Wheeler Ind 8.0 39.4 61.8
Salisbury Carter & May Ind 17.6 49.2 69.6
Darlington Venture Ind 22.1 26.4 30.7



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  1. smile please

    This is such a flawed piece of research what are the metrics he is using to measure this RM live data?

    So many variables one being some agents leave STC on until RM remove where others take off on exchange or completion.

    Almost as scientific as putting a pin in a map ……

  2. AgencyInsider

    I wonder if Lily used her pin to randomly pick a number to ‘value’ Emoov/Tepilo etc?

  3. IheartRE

    You’ve got to be kidding.

    Quirk has discovered the best formula is “The man who owns the store runs the store”.

    Don’t tell him that Independent merchants even prior to the birth of Christ were successful then. Wouldn’t want to burst his headphones!

  4. Hillofwad71

    Maybe he should have conducted that  “research ” before he set sail creating the corporate  beast  Emoov Doomed to fail? Sounds also that  Lily should   have been   at the helm  sticking pins in a map

    Estate agents are entrepreneurial beasts who don’t sit well answering to a set of BODS who quite often have no skin in the game  making some really bad decisions

    History has told us that the main beneficaries of the rise of the corporates  are the equity partners  of the independents hoovered up   for  tens of millions  purchasing    goodwill  which has  a nasty habit of disappearing

    Countrywide being a prime example foolishly  borrowing money to shell out  hundreds of millions since 2012 to buy  various independents  only to write off all the goodwill in  nanoseconds . Puff -vanished the shareholders   carrying the  cost


    Those without equity  acquired by the corporate estate agent   who are the main fee earners see  their future prospects disappear over the horizon .The prospect of being Mr Salaryman in a new organisation holding little appeal  invariably leave for  an independent and the whole merry dance starts  again

  5. Woodentop

    Who in their right mind believes anything Quirk says. His track record says a lot! Listed SSTC on RM doesn’t make any agent number one, so tunnel vision and naïve.

  6. surrey1

    I think this misunderstands the problem with a lot of corporates. I suspect the pay structure is no different, or in some cases better to try and attract candidates to be a tiny cog in a big machine. I did a stint in corporate some years ago and of course know many others who have done so more recently. The problem is cultural, whether it’s the endless form filling, ridiculous promotional guff like nationwide open days or “focus days” for staff to stay late in exchange for sharing a pizza while calling out, through to a lack of faith in leadership who become more obsessed with financial services over house sales or fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the business as has happened at CW for example. I suspect most agents just want to come in and sell houses with a good team around them without all the other guff.

    1. Retiredandrelaxed

      “… endless form filling, ridiculous promotional guff like nationwide open days or “focus days” for staff to stay late in exchange for sharing a pizza while calling out, through to a lack of faith in leadership who become more obsessed with financial services over house sales or fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the business as has happened at CW for example…”


      That’s exactly the good old CW that I recognise from my days there.

      1. surrey1

        You may say that, I couldn’t possibly comment 🙂

  7. DG

    Let’s do a survey on lots of towns and then use ten of them to suit our article. Boring, go away.

  8. coleface

    However flawed the particular logic /data used may be the fact does remain that the article headline is correct for a number of logical reasons;

    1. Staff retention at the best Independents is better so people build a reputation in an areas and get repeat business.

    2. Best Independents are much better at making a footprint in their community. Most agent offices in the South cover a radius of only a couple of square miles, so ingratiating yourself in that community makes a big difference.

    3. Best Independents are led by the most passionate business owners because they have livelihoods dependent on the results of the business. More driven, more motivated, more inspiring.

    4. Independents adapt their marketing at close quarters to match a very specific audiences not across a region to a general audience.

    5. Finding a quality sales force is very difficult. Tough enough o fill one branch let alone set ups where you have dozens of hundreds of offices.

    Agency is one of the few business types where the little man out performs the big man for these reasons. Thankfully.

    1. htsnom79

      Well put, and accurate in my experience.

  9. LogicR

    The comments on his LinkedIn post are entertaining reading to say the least


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