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Letters from America: eMoov’s Russell Quirk claims UK agency is less broken than US

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UK estate agency is broken but it isn’t half as bad as across the pond, Russell Quirk claims.

The eMoov founder has shared his experiences of the US market following a fact-finding trip with the UK Proptech Association last week.

He describes the UK model as broken and being “opaque, poor value, unreliable and largely inaccessible to the consumer outside of ‘normal’ working hours”.

He said: “A proposition based upon a bygone age of fragmented, secreted data and buyers registered in silos, hidden from view except those agents that they had visited in person. That, of course, is where the value once was in estate agency.”

However, he goes on to describe the US real estate industry – where all communication is handled through a buying and selling agent and complicated multi-listing property portals – as even worse.

Quirk said: “If the UK property sector were the horse in a Tesla filled econsumer world, relatively speaking the Americans have not yet managed to stand up straight enough to mount such a beast.”

“Their proposition is clunky to an extreme and filled with more layers than a New York deli sandwich.”

While in New York, he said, brokers, who are paid by commission, were not concerned about the rise of the fixed fee model, while one senior executive of a major US property portal hadn’t even heard of Purplebricks despite its launch in California last month.

Quirk said: “I spoke to a number of locals about their broker model and, when I asked about disruption, the rise of a fixed fee model and of any concerns over a threat to the incumbents, all responded quizzically and with cocked heads of astonishment that any such thing could ever transpire.

“Their answers took me right back, deja vu like, to circa 2011 when I posed similar suggestions to property firms, experts and commentators back home where, as we know, hybrid type digital approaches have since resulted in hundreds of millions in investment and the traditional sector in the form of Connells, LSL, Savills, Countrywide, Belvoir, Douglas and Gordon and a growing plethora of small independents, recently racing to acquire or partner with us freshmen.

“So whilst I expected to learn lessons from America on my trip, it turns out that for once, us Brits are well ahead of the game and in fact it’s actually a case of ‘lessons to be learned from England’, I’m proud to say.”

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Source:: Letters from America: eMoov’s Russell Quirk claims UK agency is less broken than US