High street independent spreads his wings with new online agency

A high street agent has launched a new online firm.

Mike Brain, founder of Hannells, which has seven offices in Derby, has launched ispymyhome.

It does not operate in Derby itself, and thus does not compete with Hannells. Its territory is otherwise across Derbyshire, plus Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire.

The new online venture is being run by Brain’s son Ben, who was formerly marketing director at Hannells.

Brain senior said that the new online agent had taken on 35 properties since a soft launch at the start of the year.

Brain junior, who is 30, said most of the activity is outside normal working hours, with clients “having our personal numbers so they can contact us at any time”.

The new online agent charges £645.

The successful Hannells remains very much open for business, emphasised Brain senior, who told EYE: “However, we cannot ignore the fact that online is coming.”



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  1. Chris Watkin

    Putting aside whether High Street agents should open their own Online offering, I am glad they saw sense and decided to have a separate brand for their online offering.


    1. shirleyk

      can we discuss the merits of both? – launching a new brand, new name, without impacting negatively on existing ‘premium’ sales versus drawing on previous reputation and utilising existing traffic to your site?
      I’m interested to hear thoughs from both sides….

  2. Property Ear

    Don’t waste your money Ben – stick with Dad.

    The fact that low cost on-line ‘agency’ is doomed to failure is surely a no Brainer!

    1. FromTheHip64

      Very naive comment Property Ear…..use your property eyes and take a look around. It’s here (whether we like it or not) and it’s growing. Any agent who doesn’t accept that fact and takes some action is in trouble.

      1. Trevor Mealham

        Any agent who can’t justify a higher fee for doing more is in greater trouble. It takes millions in advertising to earn a few quid offering budget.
        Any sane seller wants an agent to tell them how they can achieve a better watch offer, not how to just list cheaply on portals. Budget is a false economy for consumers and agents revenue

      2. Property Ear

        Dream on FromtheHip – without being unduly rude – use your Property Brain – how the hell can you do such an important job  for 645 quid?

  3. Trevor Mealham

    Helped an agent get a property on yesterday over budget agency and 1% fee agents for a 1.5% fee.

    So. £645 or a likely £7,500 fee.

    The pitch was based on a premium offering to sub out, over cost cutter pitches. If our agent sells direct they’ll take the whole fee. If a sub agent Intel’s they’ll just split.

    There’s absolutely no reason for budget other than a week pitch.

    1. P-Daddy

      If there was a premium offering at this pitch and the agent you helped really is worth their salt, why is there a cop out with a sub instruction?! Lazy agency. Sell it yourself and earn the full fee of £7,500, no excuses

  4. Reggie53258

    They have expanded into areas where their branch network couldnt – so fair play to them for trying and having a go. Build a presence, create the demand and then increase the fee, hats off ispymyhome.

  5. Property Peep

    In the area I am based, the online offering is simply a different way of pricing. When dealing with properties that are generally sub £250,000, taking everything into account the online selling fee comes very close to a high st full service agents fee.

    But PB are gaining market share, who wouldn’t be with millions being pumped into advertising.


  6. Property Paddy

    Just been looking at PB share price, may be Ben has the right idea.

    You don’t actually need to make any money what so ever just launch on the stock exchange and let the punters throw money at you.

    Simples !!

    £4.50 a share

    Grief !

  7. Blue

    £645 and you get “professional photography” !    If my professional photographer submitted the $+itE they are using he would be out on his ear.  First, and most visible, and important, corner cut.   Terrible, unreadable floorplans (why bother) second corner chopped.    YAAAWWWN.

    Pay peanuts….

  8. Woodentop

    Now why not operate in Derby? Hannells scared it would hurt them, yet they expect other business’s to compete where they will be operating? Maybe someone will start up an on-line in Derby…….. from across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire?

  9. Benjamin Brain

    I just wanted to check in with one comment to say thank you to Ros and the team for publishing the article and thank you to all who have stopped by the site today to check it out, we’ve had some great conversations!

    To all the other agents out there who are striving and continuing to innovate, differentiate, improve and expand, I wish you the best of luck and I look forward to what the future brings – I for one know that we have a steep mountain to climb and a long way to go, but it will no doubt be an exciting journey and one that I am pleased to be a part of.

    All the best – BB.

    1. Property Paddy

      I looked in to this idea myself a couple of years back. The idea being we split the main business away from the on line offering and work in neighbouring areas to avoid conflict.
      The smallest cost was the software, followed by the advertising.
      The biggest cost was the staffing.
      Put simply on a relatively small offering the costs were unsustainable which is why PB had to raise vast amounts as the business idea only works on quite high volummes.
      And lets not forget, PB haven’t actually made a profit yet !

    2. Woodentop

      I wish you well, anyone is entitled to start a venture. Trouble is just like board knocking the competition have the habit of doing it back to you. An own goal is the result. We are heading not into an industry revolution but into muddy waters where just like agents say they can’t operate without RM, agents going on-line cheap fee route are cutting your throats in the long run? Milk it while you can but you have to work for example, FOUR plus times as hard with instructions to the high street agent one and the market is deminishing. The public are still 95% behind the High Street because they see what they want …. “service with face to face” which on-line can’t compete with but offer cheap fee because of less overheads and that is the cause for concern for other agents including Hannells! If it is the way ahead, then Hannells just like other agents will not survive. My view at this point in time, just like the other on-liners, you are a disruptor not a change for the good and the public currently vote you an outsider.


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