The top secret estate agency initiative code-named ‘Project UHA’ has now gained traction in over 10% of the UK, it is claiming.
Within two months of launch, the project – which will allow agents access to an online offering – says it has won commitments from over 300 agents.
Each will operate a UHA licence exclusively in a postcode.
Last month, EYE revealed that a ‘secret’ breakfast meeting was being held in London to introduce agents to the concept. Attendees were asked to say nothing and non-disclosure agreements were signed.
It subsequently emerged that this was the third such event. Two more meetings, in Bristol and Oxford, are to be held shortly.
Project UHA is the working title of what is intended to be an agent-owned network operating a national brand throughout England and Wales in the first place, followed by Scotland.
Each agent will be a shareholder in the new company, although it is far from clear how this mutuality will work.
UHA, founded by industry consultants Mal McCallion and Iain White, is intended to hand traditional agents the tools they need to complete with online and hybrid rivals.
It will be backed by what the pair say will be an eight-figure marketing campaign, intended to generate leads for high street agents that might otherwise not be invited out to valuation.
McCallion told EYE that the service will be unique: “It will be the agents themselves who go out to value properties, and who will be able to give vendors an informed choice.
“On our website vendors will be able to see a screen which gives a side-by-side illustration of what the DIY option involves, and what a full-service agent does.
“It will enable sellers to compare the pros and cons of each.”
If the vendor chooses to go the DIY fixed-fee route, they will be able to upgrade to a traditional service subsequently, without being out of pocket.
Unknown are the brand, the date of launch and the source of funding.
McCallion said: “The brand name of the DIY service will be a national one, and will be competitive in its charges. The name is not yet decided, but it will reflect quality.”
He went on: “Estate agency is evolving and some vendors are attracted by a fixed fee – not even inviting traditional agents out to the market appraisal.
“The industry needs a rational and organised response – something we are quietly determined to facilitate.
“UHA will, uniquely, put self-serve and full-serve products alongside each other for homesellers to compare the pros and cons of each.
“No one has, to this point, created a sustained – and sustainable – national advertising campaign explaining what full service estate agency is and why it can represent exceptional value.
“It’s time to help vendors make an informed decision – whilst ensuring that our agent partners benefit whichever choice is made.”
McCallion said that as well as a marketing campaign, the business will invest in some key hires, and is currently looking for head office premises.
He would not be drawn on the date of the launch, only saying: “It is getting closer.”
Agents interested in knowing more about the project can email: firstname.lastname@example.org