Benjamin Willmore: The Battle of Britain (Online vs The High Street)

As online agents appear left right and centre, is this the end of the High-Street agents?

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the online idea, it has only proven to show how important Estate Agents are.

Their greatest victory so far? Waking a sleeping giant – the Estate Agency industry.

The onliners have been launching their attack on estate agents for some years, long before Perturbed Bricks, sorry typo Purplebricks, started dropping large media campaigns, blitzing us with the whole commissary stories, hitting every source they can to fill the consumer with the idealism of a new way to transact in property.

All that hype, share prices through the roof but does it really work?

The online agents have about 5% market share, if I were a not a hard-driven individual then I would be happy with that, it’s not like there is 95% of the market happy with traditional method.

Word has it the online agents sell 54% of what they instruct. So maybe we retaliate with a new phrase, let’s just keep it simple – misery.

Consumers pay a fee upfront before the service has been transacted, irrelevant of the outcome, so what is the need to sell the property?

I’m not sure what the online agents are expecting to achieve, are they compelling us to sign peace deal?

Unfortunately for them, Estate agents will remain.

We have adapted the technology, we are local, more in touch with the market than ever before. This is why we outproduce the onliners, maintaining a high level of property transactions in house sales and rental properties.

It does make me laugh, when a customer transacts via online, one spoke to me saying how happy she is when she sold her property saving thousands in fees. When asked the sale price, it was £10k less than what we sold the flat above hers, same footprint, cue her misery.

Online agents either grossly overvalue and ruin the sale or heavily undervalue, they do not have the expertise of the area to know what values are. Although their local experts tend to use valuation tools (algorithms), to decide this for them.

The onliners are lacking, they cannot fully identify the critical part of the way we transact property.

The few are not supported by the many.


Benjamin Willmore is an Executive Director at Brinkley’s Estate Agents and an 18 year veteran of the property industry. He has helped develop some of the largest agencies in the UK today and is a former Judge for The Mail and The Sunday Times lettings awards.

Benjamin’s views are personal and do not constitute the views of Brinkley’s Estate Agents.