Long-standing critic of Purplebricks set to leave the high street and go hybrid

A persistent critic of online firms is to close the doors of his high street office this week – and adopt a hybrid model.

Chris Wood, of PDQ Estates in Cornwall, will work out of his home. He has already been off Rightmove a week, and is not on Zoopla, but does use OnTheMarket.

Wood, who has constantly challenged the ‘call centre’ models and in particular Purplebricks, said that he will not use a call centre – although he does use a phone handling service.

He also says he will change his business model to accept fewer properties and raise his fees.

Wood accepts that many agents will think he is going hybrid for financial reasons. But he said that, contrary to what many may think, he is actually a fan of alternative business models; he said his current offices are simply too big for his requirements, and that Rightmove’s fee was too high for him to swallow.

Wood said: “Having devised and developed the hybrid model for Tesco/ RBS in the mid noughties as their sole consultant, I have always been a fan of the idea and the business model – despite what many may believe from my posts about ‘disruptors’.

“Why do so many seem to think I am apparently anti ‘online’/ call-centre? I believe they don’t read what I repeatedly say.

“I am for all business models, as long as they trade honestly, within the rules, and don’t make claims they can’t substantiate. If you know your local area well, know your job well, why in today’s world of social media, 3D and 4K photography, must you have a high street presence?

“Certainly, in some areas, you still do, and a high street presence is a 24-hours a day passive advert of who you are and your business, but whilst I will undoubtedly lose some business from more traditional sellers, I am confident I will be able to more than offset this in other ways.

“PDQ has been offline with Rightmove for over a week. The deal agents have had from Rightmove has been a bad one for several years now and it’s simply uneconomical to continue at the current rates, so as it stands at the moment, as far as I’m concerned it’s a no deal.”

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57 Comments

  1. Robert May

    No doubt the usual suspects  will make the most out of this  apparent change of direction but I know this is something that has been on the cards for Chris for a number of years and have been watching the build up with anticipation.

    We’ve helped Chris plot where is sales success are (going right back as far as his  software allows) he is all over west Cornwall like measles. Though there are obvious hotspots the geographical spread of completions show him to be a region agent rather than a single activity centre agent. I very much doubt  buyers in  Hayle, St Ives, Penzance, Mousehole and Sennen detoured south off the A30 to visit his Helston office

    It’s a great testimonial  for OTM  Chris has opted for a NOPR.

     

    Have fun Chris and enjoy the  exciting challenges of being a fully digital estate agent with a digital office and digital window display!

     

     

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    1. Londonbound

      12 instructions is not measles. It’s acne. And let’s face it, his commitment to OTM is financial, nothing else.  I’ll be watching the build up in anticipation ha ha. 

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      1. PeeBee

        Londonbound
         
        “12 instructions is not measles. It’s acne.”
         
        No-one mentioned “instructions”. “…sales success…” is what Robert referred to – Chris Wood’s impressive history of performing for his customers.
         
        BIG difference.

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        1. Robert May

          1 instruction sold at 1.2% on the average transaction price in West Cornwall is worth  about 12 listing fees paid to a internet lister who has opted to work for a centralised listing firm.

          Who knows how Chris will move forward from today but 12 instructions is a reasonable  pipeline to head start a new venture  and he doesn’t have to go through the 3 months of 0% commission to build himself a register.

           

          The commission on those  12 sales  will be more than  the average UK wage and although that is a modest income it’s enough! If it’s not enough he will have to work a bit harder.

           

           

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        2. Londonbound

          That ‘sales success’ is now down to 12 properties (opportunities).

          Lets face it, he focussed on PB and lost his office due to not concentrating on his own business. If you honestly believe he’ll make a success of this new style venture, you’re delusional (I suspect you’re just being sycophantic).

          Karma, Chris – it just bit you in the back side.

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          1. Robert May

            I don’t do tact or political correctness easily as for blowing smoke up Chris’s rear what benefit  would I gain from that?

             

            His verified successes in a region are verified people who know Chris, they will either recommend him or tell people to steer clear.  He has genuine #local knowledge, genuine #local experience and genuine #local expertise and he is up against  the same competition as he was. That is not sycophancy it is all fact that work in his favour or against him.

            I don’t think  he will definitely do anything, so I’m not delusional. That does not mean I cannot wish him well and applaud him for making a change to his business model to meet a market that is contracting and currently has more agents than it has business.

            12 instructions  where he will get all of the commission is better than winning the instruction for someone else who do not allow any flexibility on the fee and then effectively take a 76% franchise fee.

            Each of those 12 listings is the same as about 12 lister fees

             

            I am not saying he will succeed but I do wish him  all the best.

             

            I don’t disagree those making false claim about their performances are his concern. He doesn’t have the luxury of being the boss any more. Everything he does now has to count!

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          2. Property Pundit

            He’ll outlast all the call centre shysters that’s for sure.

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    2. KernowAgent

      Let’s cut to the chase. Chris has failed to maintain or increase market share in Helston. He has had limited competition since trading as PDQ. Apart from Mather, Christophers and Countrywide the Town was for the taking. His obsession with PB has been a distraction and waste of time. It like a small retail shop in Helston constantly complaining about Amazon. On a professional level, Chris is obsessed with the sound of his own voice. He constantly reminds us all of what he has done, what local radio station he has been on…etc, etc. But actually, what has he really achieved? The successful  agents, keep their focus, just get on with it. Put yourself on a pedestal, be prepared to be knocked off. As a salesman, he has spent more time trying to sell himself than the properties he has listed. He spends more time head down ass up in statistics and his blog and PDQ website is so boring with pages and pages of text it turns off any potential vendor. I would imagine he bores potential Vendors talking about himself than the marketing of their property. The office wasn’t profitable for sometime. With so few instructions, no wonder. 3D is grasping at straws. Might provide a limited income for one person in west Cornwall but nothing more. Oh, and on a point Chris made about 4K photography, 4K is 8 megapixel…hardly  revolutionary. 4K refers to video, not photography. You only need an 8mp sensor for 4K video. The industry is very tough at the moment and full of people who talk a good game, some are holier than thou, but when the tide goes out, only then do you see who has been swimming naked. Now is that time. More will follow… And as an aside, Purple Bricks penetration into the Helston market has been next to nothing. Don’t chase Vendors who want the cheapest service or indeed the companies that offer such. They are one the ones who give any agent the most hassle for the least return. He isn’t going hybrid, he’s closing the business. It’s over. I hope he doesn’t have the gall to appear on BBC Radio Cornwall in the future as a ‘property professional’ basking in the limelight. There are several very successful alternatives in the county. Chris’ fate should be lesson to all Agents in the current market. Keep your head down, focus on what’s important, important to your Vendors. Had to be said. I genuinely wish him well in some new field of work.

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      1. SLF

        One of the best posts I’ve seen on here for a while. This was on the cards. He must have spent half his day complaining about a company and business model that he didn’t understand and had never worked in. No wonder he’s had to close his business.

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        1. PeeBee

          “No wonder he’s had to close his business.” (credit: SLF)
           
          Erm… he hasn’t closed his business.  Just the front door of its’ operating base, to run from another base.
           
          “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to post utter b0ll0cks and remove all doubt.”  (credit: thoughts of the entire readership of EYE)

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      2. PeeBee

        KernowAgent

        “I genuinely wish him well in some new field of work.”

        Chris isn’t entering a new field – just cutting the grass a different way.

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  2. Londonbound

    His estate agency business has gone from bad to worse. Wood’s total focus has been elsewhere (PB), and despite the empty (vocal) support from fellow EA’s, it’s done his business no good whatsoever. With 12 instructions he couldn’t raise his fees enough to make a living (and be competitive). Great job Chris.

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    1. Chris Wood

      Work smarter, not harder.

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      1. Bless You

        Yep. Nothing wrong with online. it’s payanyway that should be banned.

        Still can’t decide if it is economy or bricks that have destroyed the industry.

        Brexit for sure has killed the units though.

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        1. Bless You

          Sorry (for the leavers) it’s not brexit it’s the though of brexit) . They are different things to leavers   

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      2. VillageAgent

        Agreed Chris, and it is also QUALITY rather than quantity. I have been trading 25 years and have fewer listings than you but still make a nice living and decent profit! I have an average fall through rate below 10% and usually sell 85 – 90% of what I take on. I still have an office but have been considering same move as you for some time. Also, been monitoring Rightmove as my last 5 sales were properties that I had held back from the portals and only listed on my own website.  I think what you have done is absolutely the right way forward for small businesses like ours and I wish you the best with it. Decent old fashioned service, that’s what my clients still want, and all that should be important to us is a good work/life balance!!

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    2. WiltsAgent

      Not sure Purple bricks can be said to be making a living when they are losing £1 million a week. Nor the rag bag of other on liners. Best guess from their figures the whole sector is losing about £6 million every month. Not what I would call making a living.

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    3. Woodentop

      Who ever said that “on-line” couldn’t work? What has been said many times is High Street Agents are on-line so they really are the Hybrids. The argument is that (a) FACT “on-line only” agents cannot provide the same level of service as the High Street position and staffing and paid on results (b) The very much public PR “on-line only” brigade are losing money in the £m’s, while they say they offer the same service and the likes of PB for example charge for not being a success, if the property is not sold (c) Those “on-line only” that charge no sale no fee have had very little impact and don’t spend the mega £m’s on TV advertising (d) “On-line only” could work for small business’s as long as they appreciate the limited levels of business/returns and stick to the business plan that suits them.

       

      It is the “on-liners only” that came out slagging off the High Street to win business when they should have been promoting themselves (oops couldn’t do that as most of the big ones have been failures or hanging on by their teeth), hiding the true facts on how successful they really are for their investors, the consumer and the industry. You are deluded if you expected the High Street agents to role over and not fight back with these disruptors and their antics.

       

      Sounds to me that Chris is taking early semi-retirement.

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      1. Chris Wood

        Work-life balance is all 😉

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  3. DomPritch134

    Absolute comedy gold.

    ’change his business model to charge higher fees and accept fewer properties’ he only has 12 on the market, I’m not sure this is the most astute strategy.

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    1. digitalfix

      Agreed.   Whilst we all love an underdog, we also all love a clown once in a while.  Keep up the entertainment Chris; it’s fascinating to watch.

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  4. Property Poke In The Eye

    I think Wood should of kept the office whilst trying the Hybrid model.

    It’s look like his business is not doing well and that’s why he is trying to go down the Hybrid model.   It doesn’t work in my opinion, that’s if you want to make a decent profit.

    I will also be watching.

    A few weeks ago another agent in West London  went into a hub after closing 4 offices.  I have been watching and monitoring them and it seems they haven’t taken many properties on and doesn’t seem to be much action on that front.

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  5. J1

    He won’t be the first Actually if ihevwants an easy life and he has a client base he could probably make a reasonable living Add some new homes and it’s a goer A lot of agency is vanity

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  6. ARC

    I don’t know which part to criticise first as there’s too much to go at so I will just move on as I’m sure most of the points will be picked up by others who have more time than I.

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  7. Hillage

    No office,no rightmove, no Zoopla , that’s not a business model it’s the begining of the end,

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  8. smile please

    Best of luck Chris. Not sure it’s the right choice but we are not all privy to your circumstances.

    Hope it’s a success but I anticipate a hard slog.

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    1. Chris Wood

      Thank you. My 3D business is doing well with contracts completed for Marco Pierre White, Weston College, Doubletree by Hilton and the RNLI amongst others and I need to ensure I have the flexibility to continue to build that whilst still having enough time to properly look after a smaller, more profitable client base of property.

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      1. smile please

        Best of luck Chris.

        If i maybe so candid to offer some advice.

        Now you have your new start coming up. Maybe stop looking at the industry as a whole and concentrate on listing and selling property in West Cornwall.

        Choose your wars and battles and know when you have won or when to stop trying to win.

        You are a good agent with a good heart and many years experience. Walk away from the PB battles and hurt them by being the best agent you can.

        If you have not come across Christopher Watkin in the past look him up, all about setting yourself up as an authority in your town. It would be perfect for you to add into your new venture.

        Keep us posted with how it all goes, look forward to hearing about your new venture as opposed to time spent fighting battles for the industry.

         

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        1. Bless You

          We should all be chipping in to help chris keep up the good work he does in educating the public about Bricks.
           
          Also, Why Rightmove and Property mark continue to take money off genuine agents while allowing bricks to operate.
           
          I reckon £10 a month to chris would be enough. Set up a go fund me page,,i will kick it off.  

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  9. Countrybumpkin

    Come on PIE. How can this be a top story on a Monday morning? Please don’t include it as ‘something for the weekend’ on Saturday. Love the news feeds generally otherwise!
    #candobetter !!!!

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    1. Bless You

      Time for you to set your own forum up if you think so easy. be quiet. 

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  10. Simon Bradbury

    Good for you Chris!

    I have always admired, though not always agreed, with your open approach to life in general and to estate agency in particular.

    Who knows what the “best” business model is? There is room for them all in my opinion. As we know, ultimately the consumer will decide, and I look forward to learning from your experiences in the future – good or bad.

    Change is inevitable in business and I commend your approach and vision. By coincidence, this happens to be the main message in Peter Knight’s article in today’s four-i newsletter which quotes, amongst others, Buddha…”Everything changes, nothing remains the same”.

    ( Well worth a read… https://propertyacademy.co.uk/four-i-newsletter-issue-259?inf_contact_key=6ef1b75a0f6fbfc6d877179ad5ef1fc0 )

    Please keep us updated with your adventure!

     

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    1. Chris Wood

      Thank you Simon.

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  11. Adam Day

    Can we just be clear…leaving the high street isn’t ‘going hybrid’, it’s going online

    A hybrid car is a mixture of petrol/diesel and electric. Therefore a hybrid agent would be a mixture of a traditional office and online capabailities (customer being able to self serve, etc)

    Can we finally get a definition in place by one of the ‘authorities’?

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    1. Chris Wood

      I’m leaving fixed, permanent rented premises on the high street but will be expanding our property surgeries where we meet clients in local town and village centres, coffee shops etc. It’s better for us and our clients and maintains a visual, cost effective physical and social presence. It’s also good for helping bring more business into other local businesses. Win win.

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      1. Adam Day

        What about if you made your high street premises somewhere where customers actually ‘sought out’
        Virtual reality pod? Free coffee? Workshop seminars for landlords?
        There’s this big online tech business called Apple that has an amazing online tech product, but also huge shops with dozens of staff running about giving demonstrations on how best to do sketches on an iPad.
        High street locations have to be an ‘experience’. If they aren’t, then many more will follow your lead Chris – I essentially agree with what you’re doing if you’re not prepared to create an experience. Those that are sticking to their high street location need to think about what experience they can create, in my opinion

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    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      So which would mean all high street agents and businesses with premises are Hybrids?

       

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      1. Adam Day

        No, because trad agents dont have the ability to allow vendors to self serve (change price, move photos, change description, confirm viewings, negotiate offers, etc) When high street agents have all those capabilities, then they will be essentially hybrid.
        But I absolutely hate the word hybrid. It means nothing to the customer, so I dont know why anyone uses it.
        ’Online’ however, means much more. It means control, accessibility to information 24/7 and low cost, which is what online agents generally are – forget about whether right or wrong, good model or bad, that is what online agents are and which is why traditional agents who say “We’re all online aren’t we?” haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about…

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        1. Mothers Ruin

          I wish Chris well in his endeavours. I’m new to PIE and find the difference in views fascinating. I’m all for innovation but I wouldn’t sleep at night if my clients could change their photos and negotiate offers!

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  12. Property Pundit

    08.34am and the usual muppets already up and posting. Sooooooooo predictable.

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    1. J1

      Does that include your good self; being a regular muppet as you are sir/madam

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  13. IndAgent

    Morning Chris. Interesting move. Couple of questions…. What percentage fee/or average £ fee would you be aiming to charge clients?

    If you aim to charge more than your local, High Street competitors, what are your justifications for charging more, whilst on the surface ‘doing less’ in the eyes of the general public.

    As agents are marketing firms, selling a product, a house, if a client was to ask, ‘where are you advertising my property?’  What would your response be?

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    1. Chris Wood

      Our fee is typically 0.25 to 0.5 % above our competitors. On a typical house sale in my area that’s a reasonable sum for a job well done (people still recommend us widely locally and on social media despite costing a little more than some but, equally less than others).

      I’m happy to spend some time with you at your premises on how to raise fees if you want to employ me. My industry knowledge has been used quietly over the years by a number of firms and individuals including a good number with far higher profits and turnover than, I suspect, every poster on this forum.

      I employ a number of USPs’ including 3Dtours, magazine cover style main photograph, excellent social media presence etc. but, most importantly, a more personalised, experienced and friendly service that has a reputation for honesty, integrity and transparency. Heck, our sole agency contract even has a badge to prove it! http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/services/honesty-mark/honesty-mark-holders.html

      As for advertising your home, we advertise on our website and the portal that we receive the most leads from, that is cost effective and value for money. We’re not on Rightmove any more because it was no longer a cost-effective way to market clients homes.

      If all people are employing you/ your firm for is the fact you can say you advertise on Rightmove, you are simply holding yourself hostage of going with the lowest common denominator.

      I’m not in a race to the bottom on fees or service, never have been and never will. We’ll lose some business and some of it will, no doubt, good business but, I’m looking forward to having a little more free time on my hands, developing my 3D tour business, not being beholden to a number of fixed costs and, moving towards my goal of buggering off to the Med’/ Caribbean with my partner as charter and private yacht skippers and hosts in a few years time. After 30 years of working in agency and a few health concerns, I need to reprioritise and re-focus.

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  14. SLF

    You couldn’t make it up could you!.

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  15. bridget

    Have on the market changed the rules of who can advertise then? When we looked originally at whether to join, (OTM version 1) it was made quite clear that as we had no shop front we were not eligible to join even if we had wanted to. The explanation was that although we were a local independent agent, the lack of a shop front meant we could not ‘co brand’ . They were adamant about it. Did it therefore change with the Version 2?

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  16. Whaley

    Wow ⁦Chris⁩ !! You don’t do things by halves #NoDealBrexit AND #NoDealRightMove.
     
    Take two conditioners into the shower!!
    As Sir Humphrey used to say ‘What a brave decision!’

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  17. MarkJ

    Best wishes for the future Chris.

    Not sure what your 3D business entails but thats an impressive client list.

    Having an alternative source of income would seem a wise move for all agents in 2019.

    Regards

    Mark

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    1. Chris Wood

      Thanks Mark. Easier to show than try to explain but its useful for everything from straight marketing to education, autism and mental well-being (explore new environments from within a known, familiar environment), employment, induction training and defence applications.

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  18. MrsC

    If you will be based at home, what about your staff? Will they also be home based or will you now shed that and go alone?

    Brave decision, not one I would personally make as I do believe here in Cornwall, and especially our area, we do need that presence and office location.

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  19. LordElpus56

    Headline should read

    “VOCAL CRITIC OF HYBRID AGENTS TO GO HYBRID HIMSELF”

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  20. Thomas Flowers

    Best wishes Chris

    With utmost transparency in fees/charges, professional one to one personal service to completion, actual local knowledge/expertise, No sale, No fee ( client fee protection from failure or insolvency) and 3D property tours. I believe you are able to offer a great level of service whether with or without a physical office.

    Perhaps, the rise of the local personal agent charging a realistic fee for a fantastic service is what the future actually looks like starting in rural areas?

     

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  21. GPL

     

    Best of luck Chris. You are best placed to know how to move your business forward within your market.

     

     

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  22. charlie.wright

    Ah, hear the cries of the agents still lumbered with huge fixed overheads, office leases for staff they no longer need, and portal bills that they wish they didn’t have to pay!

    The only things any agent should be judged on is results. How many properties that you took on did you sell, for how much, and in what timescale?

    Any agent who can sell clients’ properties for the best price in the shortest time WITHOUT fixed overheads seems like someone who knows how to make more money with less work. In fact, you could argue they are a far better agent, not relying on the RM crutch or high street presence, but on reputation alone.

    I am already seeing more and more agents setting up new businesses from home, needing a fraction of the start up money to do it, and bringing their best service game to the market. It’s the dawn of a new era for agents who value quality of life over turnover.

    Congratulations Chris, and best of luck. Think of the agents stuck in high street offices working to pay portal fees and their landlord while you’re walking your dogs on the Cornish beaches in between viewings!

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  23. IndAgent

    Company check shows a net worth of -£281,259.00

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    1. Woodentop

      Not necessary to make that statement.

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