A reference to Arun Estates’ new hub business Hadleys London as an online agent on its own website was a “massive mistake”, the group’s managing director David Lench has admitted.
He said it was a proof reader’s mistake, joking that as punishment they will now be seconded to the firm’s anti-money laundering department for the next five years.
Yesterday’s announcement of the launch of Hadleys London, in Keston near Croydon, and charges from £1,000 upfront, sowed confusion among EYE readers.
One poster, Shaun77, pointed out that the brand’s new website said “We’re the best online agent”.
The launch came less than a week after EYE reported that Arun Estates has rejected offering any online strategy on the basis that Lench cannot see how it can make any money.
Lench has now intervened to clarify and started by thanking our reader who had pointed out the discrepancy.
He said: “Let me make Arun’s position perfectly clear.
“As I said last week, we have – after looking long and hard at the issues – completely rejected the concept of online and so-called hybrid agents (who aren’t really anything of the sort). We still stand by that.
“Nevertheless, it is undeniable that their appearance on the scene has substantially altered the terms of the debate about the future of estate agency, and this demands a considered response from the rest of us.
“So, what should that response be? As I also said last week, for conventional high street agents, we believe that the race to the bottom on fees can only end badly.
“That’s why, in order to defend our existing high street brands, and the investment we have made in them over nearly three decades, we are very much following a strategy of developing premium brands and providing a premium service.
“We have always held out for a higher commission rate in order to provide the higher level of service which we believe customers want.
“However, when it comes to expanding into areas where we currently have no presence, we have chosen to use a parallel – but different – approach. Hence the hub-based model we have adopted for Hadleys London.
“Hadleys has office premises within the Bromley catchment area that we are covering. It will be traditionally staffed with listers and sales negotiators and is supported by a sales progressor, mortgage advisor and administrator.
“Because it covers a larger area, our costs are proportionately less. This enables us to trial different commission structures – including the traditional ‘no sale, no fee’ arrangement. However, in every other respect, Hadleys will operate just like any other full-service agent.
“Time will tell, of course, but here at Arun we are confident that we’re on the right track.”