Fine & Country has introduced a self-employed agency business model to be run by well-known former Property Academy chief Nicky Stevenson.
The new model, known as the Fine & Country Associate platform, will be offered to agents alongside the traditional option of being a licensee of Fine & Country.
It’s already been trialled in the F&C Midlands offices and has been described as a “success.”
“The model will be for experienced agents who wish to have the backing of an established, respected brand, while still being able to maintain their own independence and identity. We believe that the self-employed model is going to continue to grow in the UK as more and more agents seek an alternative to working for a salary and minimal portion of the fee” says Stevenson.
“Many agents are realising that they have the potential to earn far more in a self-employed model” she adds.
Stevenson’s most recent employer, before moving to F&C, was Keller Williams – operating one of the most pro-self employed agency models in the UK now.
Stevenson says that while only a small percentage of UK estate agents are self-employed, she believes as many as 30 per cent of the industry could be using this model by the end of the 2020s.
“As a brand, we want to continue to grow while being flexible and remaining sensitive to the changes we are seeing within the market and what the industry wants. A self-employed model provides an opportunity for experienced, entrepreneurially-minded agents to own their own business without having the overheads of running a high-street or traditional agency” explains David Lindley, chief executive of Fine & Country.
“As seasoned property professionals, they will have flexibility and independence while being supported by an established premium brand” he adds.
He continues that the new self-employed model offered by Fine & Country will not affect the current licensee model.
“Our licensees have the exclusive right to market and sell properties within their territories, and they can choose to participate in the associate platform if they would like.”
The government will not announce a Mansion Tax at next month’s Budget.
It was first reported by the Sunday Telegraph a week ago, quoting two separate sources saying the idea was being considered by both the Treasury and 10 Downing Street.
On the same day Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick appeared on Sky TV and declined to rule out the possibility of a Mansion Tax.
But what a difference a week makes.
This morning’s Sunday Telegraph reports that Boris Johnson personally has vetoed the proposal.
Estate agents and Conservative politicians criticised the idea, and it has now emerged that Sajid Javid – the former Chancellor who resigned on Thursday – had been told by a senior backbench MP prior to the Cabinet reshuffle that many Tories were up in arms at the prospect of such a tax.
It is also revealed in the Telegraph that the Treasury wanted next month’s Budget to include a pledge to undertake a nationwide revaluation of homes.
This may have resulted in sharply higher council tax for many home owners.
However the newspaper understands that this, too, has been scrapped and will not be announced at the Budget.
A challenger portal says agents should reduce their reliance on the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla by using smaller rival portals as part of a wider marketing strategy for their listings.
Babek Ismayil, founder and chief executive of OneDome – a PropTech platform which runs a portal of the same name – says major portals are so strong that consumers expect to see their homes listed there.
The more content a portal displays, the more people will come and check listings – and that higher traffic allows portals to charge higher subscription fees to agents, says Ismayil.
“Portal costs for agents are also rising due to a lack of competition in the marketplace. There is a lack of new listings websites for several reasons, including agents being protective of stock which results in a high start-up cost for a new business” he continues.
“By being protective of their listings, estate agents inadvertently make it more difficult for new businesses to enter the market and compete against the larger portals.
“Instead they further empower established portals and help cement their market monopoly, which then allows those portals to charge agents more” says Ismayil.
Instead, he wants agents to use other portals to reduce what he calls “the stranglehold on agents” now held by the major sites, and to use newer marketing methods such as social media.
“The influence of social media continues to grow, with more consumers using platforms like Facebook as a place to buy and sell things and property will be no different. Agents should consider getting ahead of the curve now and advertising properties through social media while it is still a differentiator.”
He adds that agents can also benefit from focusing on improving their own websites.
“If agents’ websites had a better customer experience, consumers may start to see them as a viable route to search for properties instead of solely using the portals” concludes Ismayil.
One of Britain’s most experienced estate agents says there’s no alternative to Rightmove, and the portal’s relationship with the industry is not worse in principle than any other supplier in a strong position.
Lee Wainwright – former chief executive of Purplebricks UK and a former managing director of 116 Bairstow Eves and Mann & Co offices for Countrywide in London – admits that Rightmove has few friends at any level of the industry.
But he says the portal has won the consumer’s expectation for their property to be featured on it when it goes on sale or for rent – “there is no alternative … there is no choice” he says.
However, he dismisses suggestions that Rightmove’s relationship with agents is like that of the controlling partner in an abusive relationship.
“Was it any different in the 90s with newspapers and advertising rates? Was it any different in terms of the relationship that any supplier has ever had with any estate agent when they say they want to put their prices up?” Wainwright asks industry consultant in a video interview made available exclusively to Estate Agent Today.
Wainwright – now chief executive of floorplan and photography supplier FocalAgent – admits however that he could see why some agents feel excessive increases in charges by Rightmove do not match up with what some people believe to be the quality of the product in return.
The video is short – well under three minutes – but sheds light on what the big corporates think of Rightmove.
Boris Johnson is considering introducing a mansion tax for high value homes according to a Sunday newspaper.
The Telegraph – citing two separate but unnamed sources – says the measure is being considered as a way of helping pay for large scale infrastructure improvements, primarily in the north of England.
Both sources suggested that the PM and Chancellor Sajid Javid were looking for ways “to raise more tax from better off homeowners” and that the mansion tax had been discussed by the Treasury and Number 10.
“Some Treasury officials are understood to be keen on introducing what has been described as a ‘recurring’ wealth tax that would primarily affect London and the South East, possibly as a quid pro quo for cutting stamp duty” the paper says on its front page this morning.
Almost exactly seven years ago on February 14 2013 the then-Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to introduce a mansion tax on high value properties: the policy was seen as contributing to Labour’s defeat at the 2015 General Election.
During the December 2019 General Election, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the Financial Times that Labour would no longer advocate a mansion tax as it may be considered too radical.
Now the Telegraph is suggesting that the Johnson government is considering two options – an annual levy on high value homes along the lines of the original Miliband proposal, or an additional higher level of council tax for the most expensive properties.
No details of price thresholds or tax levels are mentioned.
“Some Tory advocates of the move point to New York, where property taxes are much higher” says the paper this morning.
“The talks [on a possible mansion tax] come as Treasury officials have privately compiled a lengthy menu of tax rises, including the proposed levy on expensive homes, capital gains, other stealth raids on business and even inheritance tax to pay for increased public spending while sticking to the Chancellor’s new fiscal rules” the article continues.
The surprising move under consideration by the Johnson government comes just a few days after it gave strong support to the stamp duty reform in 2014 introduced by then-Chancellor George Osborne.
Many estate agents and market commentators blame the Osborne reform for introducing high levy of stamp duty on expensive homes, and during his election campaign to become Conservative leader Johnson himself expressed strong reservations about stamp duty levels.
But the Treasury spokesman in the House of Lords – the Earl of Courtown – last week said: “The government has already made substantial reforms to the taxation of housing. At Autumn Statement 2014 the government reformed SDLT on residential properties, cutting the tax for 98 per cent of buyers who pay it, unless they are purchasing additional property.”
New research suggests the internet and broadband coverage have become even more important to buyers and tenants.
The study – involving 228 housing professionals and 2,000 homeowners or renters – shows that 86 per cent of the public claim having a decent connection in their property is important and 64 per said they would be put off by a home with slow Wi-Fi.
Overall 54 per cent are ‘more likely’ to purchase a property with a good connection.
Amongst property professionals 60 per cent of respondents rate ‘reliable, fast, fibre connectivity’ as critical and equivalent to being the fourth utility.
A further 32 per cent defined it as ‘a key attractor’ for buyers and renters.
A quarter of the public say they work from home on a regular basis and therefore rely on broadband.
Almost half – 47 per cent – want a decent broadband connection to keep in touch with their friends and family, and four in 10 use it for streaming TV shows and films.
Agents “dread” buyers’ questions on value, asking prices and nearby new development according to a survey.
Some 50 agents and over 1,500 owners who had purchased in the past three years were questioned by interiors firm Hillarys over their dealings with estate agents.
The questions the agents apparently dreaded most were:
– How much money has the property lost in value over the last X years? – 54%;
– Are there currently any plans for the local area that could affect us as homeowners? – 42%;
– What is the lowest price the sellers are willing to go? – 33%;
– Is the seller part of a chain and how motivated are they to sell? – 21%;
– Has anyone died in the property? – 18%
The agents also revealed some of the most unusual questions they’d been asked by prospective buyers during viewings included ‘do the pets/plants come with the house?’, ‘is there any chance that the home is haunted?’ and ‘would I be allowed to paint the house exterior?’