Two branches of Hunters estate agents have moved onto the high street, but an online-only firm believes this isn’t necessary.
Both Hunters offices, in Tring and Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, are owned by franchisee Caroline Murgatroyd.
They were previously operated out of town, but Murgatroyd believes that a high street location raises the brand’s profile.
Hunters’ franchises are often started from the franchisee’s own home or in out-of-town offices.
But Robert Ellice, the Chief Executive of online agent easyProperty, insists online is the only way to go: “I don’t believe any estate agent starting today would believe they need a high street office.”
Murgatroyd opened the Tring office in the autumn of 2012 with just two staff members. The team has now grown to eight members of staff in the last three years.
She says: “We’ve experienced a massive difference since relocating to the high street and the branch is a lot busier now. So many people look into our display window, which is attracting more walk-in clients.
“The uplift in business was immediate and we’ve seen a 20% increase in activity, which is exactly what we were looking to achieve with the move.”1
Hunters in Leighton Buzzard, opened by Murgatroyd six months ago, has also moved to the high street.
Its Branch Manager, David Lawrence, comments: “The business has really taken off and we’ve tripled our workforce in the short time we’ve been operating. Our new office makes us more accessible to our clients, which is very beneficial.
“I am very confident that displaying the Hunters brand on the high street will further raise the company’s profile.”1
In a recent interview, Ellice states: “Being online, we don’t have to charge over-the-odds prices to cover expensive overheads. This makes us more agile and able to respond to what customers really need.
“When I started writing my business plan, I felt so excited because I was rewriting the rule book with easyProperty.
“High street agents are extinct, they just don’t realise it yet. More and more people are putting faith in online transactions, seeing online portals as the new norm.
“Having a shop-front no longer instils trust and credibility, especially for estate agents, so there is a significant tide of people turning to online agents, which are faring much better in terms of transparency.
“The marketplace is moving away from bricks and mortar, and easyProperty is determined to drag it into the digital age.”1
Yesterday, easyProperty had 24 properties listed for sale on Rightmove and 326 for rent.