18th April 2014


How hands on should a boss be?

Well, judging by this week, if they truly believe in running an exceptional, competitive business then there really is no getting away from the office. Even when you’re away from the office.

On Sunday this week I flew on holiday with my family. It’s a chance for them to remember what I look like. Mostly you see, I get home in the evenings after my three small children (one aged 5 and twins of 4) have gone to bed. Mornings are a mish-mash of toothpaste, Weetabix and muddled school uniforms and that always seem to pass by at lightening speed with little time for chat. Weekends are less taxing but still seem to magnetise work related requirements more often than not.

So, holiday. A relaxing time. Or at least it should be.

Even with a very able team in place at our Brentwood HQ it seems that the boss is still in demand. Being the founder of a rapidly growing business that has customers at its very heart, there seems to be little escape from being the sounding board, the fixer or the source of much needed information despite being two thousand miles and two time zones away. Some things, it seems, just won’t wait.

Whilst attempting, for once, to do nothing this week I’ve ended up getting involved in…

A major data-feed issue with Rightmove that has prevented some of our new instructions from being displayed since Monday. An afternoon’s worth of increasingly louder calls to Rightmove and our data supplier sorted the issue eventually. And I’ve authorised free Premium Listings for the 37 customers affected by the delay…

Chasing a supplier to rectify an issue with one of our VOIP phone circuits that has decided, spitefully, to drop some of our calls here and there…

Shouting at our national sign-board contractor to whom we pay thousands of pounds a month to finally fix a board that has been erected incorrectly at a house in Fife. The customer has emailed me directly to complain and he’s right, it has taken too long to remedy despite us kicking the third party several times to attend to the problem over the past two weeks…

Tried to placate a concerned buyer whose offer has been accepted on a house but where the lender’s surveyor disagrees with the sale price…

And another buyer frustrated at our selling client being unwilling to confirm a completion date three months after the original offer was accepted. I’ve been asked to help but, to be frank, may fall short at ushering the owner out of the house against their will…

To top it all, it rained today.

I wonder if most CEOs would interrupt their vacations where it was necessary to respond to problems back at base and to reply personally to customer emails no matter what? Notwithstanding the ‘comfort’ of an Out of Office Reply being in place.

It helps to have a VERY understanding wife, too.

Inconvenient it may be but if you are serious about being number one in your industry, or even two, three or four, I don’t see that there’s any other way to be in today’s demanding business environment where the customer expects much but has an ever easier choice as to where to get it.

Still, the flight back this Sunday evening is four hours long. Assuming my little darlings sleep, I might just get a few moments to relax before facing up to the usual elbowing at the baggage carousel :-)


This ‘boss blog’ was delivered by Russell Quirk, Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk

Category: CEO musings, Estate Agency | Comments: 0

16th April 2014

Do you like a project? Or do you look for a house that needs very little work?

Well, a survey conducted on behalf of GoCompare reveals that most people in the UK look for property that needs minimal work (or one where they could preferably move straight into).

The study gathered responses from over 2,000 people, establishing that, despite TV programmes about home renovation and DIY, more than four in five (81%) of house hunters still prefer to buy a house that doesn’t require major upgrades. In addition, one in three respondents said they search only for newly-built property.

People looking to buy a new property were chiefly attracted by the great energy efficiency it offers, with over a third agreeing that new builds are better insulated and cost less to heat. Around 28% of property hunters viewed new property as maintenance-free and 24% said that their modern look was their strongest appeal.

Among respondents ready to buy a house that needs some work, 39% stated they wouldn’t mind involving themselves in a housing project such as an extension. Around a quarter said they would be happy to purchase a house that needs a major improvement.

Asked to choose between new-build or older property, 63% said they prefer to buy older properties, with 48% of them stating this was because they had larger rooms. Another 35% said it was the character and original charms that attracted them to older homes and 15% admitted they simply didn’t want to live in a newly-built house.

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to buying a property. What are yours?

Category: General | Comments: 0

11th April 2014

Really, it’s a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ scenario when it comes to the time length of buying your first home. But a brand new study by the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank suggests that first-time buyers in the UK tend to underestimate the time it takes to enter the property market.

Results from the banks’ joint Annual First Time Buyers Survey show that 67% of house hunters don’t accurately estimate how long it’ll take to find their first home. In fact, the process often turns out to be up to three years longer than anticipated, according to 50% of survey respondents.

Things seem to have changed over the last 30 years; people aged 55 and over taking part in the poll were nearly three times more likely to have purchased their first property within the expected timescale than respondents in their late 20s and early 30s.

Asked to name the reasons that stalled their buying process, financial issues prevailed as the factor guiding buyers’ thinking and actions when looking for their first home. But finding the right property was also a problem, cited by around one in five respondents.

The most notable difference between buyer expectations and the actual time it takes to get onto the housing ladder was recorded in London, where 76% of house hunters said it actually took them longer. Potential house buyers in Scotland were found to be most likely to have bought their first home within the expected timeline.

Are you a home owner? If so, did the buying process take the amount of time you expected?

Category: General | Comments: 0

9th April 2014

Do you read the small print?

Well, it seems that landlords using the services of letting agents to rent out their properties have been advised not to overlook the small print in their contracts. This is to help them avoid unintentionally assuming liability for costs they’re not supposed to pay.

The call comes from a recent investigation by The Telegraph. The newspaper revealed that landlords should be extremely careful about certain terms and conditions if they want to keep their returns intact.

One of the sections where fine print is particularly important is the ‘change of ownership’ clause, which was seen in many of the contracts examined. This clause allows the letting agent to continue to collect full tenancy fees years after the property has been sold. If it’s sold with a tenant in place, the original owner is obliged to pay fees as long as the property is occupied by the same tenant – even if the original tenancy period has ended. This means that the owner could be forced to pay for many years despite having nothing to do with the property or tenant.

Another clause that requires landlords’ attention is the ‘selling to a tenant’ section, which gives the agent the right to a share of the proceeds received by the landlord when selling the property to a tenant found by the agent – even if he/she did not contribute to the sale at all. Given the average UK house price is £254,000, a 2% fee would translate into £5,080 plus VAT in proceeds to the agent.

Landlords should also carefully consider the maintenance fees communicated in the contract. Many agents now tend to charge property owners for servicing and maintenance work arranged through contractors, adding mark-ups of up to 20% to contractors’ bills and seeking reductions of up to 60% for work on the property.

Have you ever been caught out by terms and conditions you were unaware of?

Category: General | Comments: 0

6th April 2014


In recent days I’ve noticed a significant surge in pleas from the estate agency industry which seek to defend the traditional business model. This is bound to be in answer to heightened media activity surrounding our sector and focussing on the ‘new online estate agency phenomenon’, as they are aptly terming it.

Dyed in the wool property patriarchs are lining up to explain why you must, as a would be home seller, continue to utilise the services of high street estate agency firms.

Their arguments range from the ‘local knowledge’ quip through to the ‘pay a higher fee and you’ll get a higher price’ malarkey. The latter, laughably, conjuring up a logic that further opens the flood gates of greed to those agents that are already manipulating vendors into paying tens of thousands to find them a buyer.

Ask me for some examples of sales where eMoov.co.uk have achieved prices substantially in excess of the initial asking figure. We have loads.

Home sellers are unlikely to be convinced by such colloquial ‘reasons’ as ‘pay more, get more’ in shelling out for their property to be marketed.

The thing is, quite ironically really, all homes are sold online. Because buyers search the major portals like Rightmove rather than waiting for Julian at Robin Blind & Co to dig out his rolodex with his ‘hot buyers’ listed therein. Indeed Zoopla say that they have around 900,000 buyers registered for instant property alerts that ping an email to house hunters the second something meeting their requirements is listed with one of their 12,000 UK agent partners. I’m an unsure as to how many punters are genuinely transfixed by the geographical ability of an employee of a ‘local’ company and their skill in identifying each nearby post-box or some such. It’s no more relevant for an agent to be ‘local’ than it is to book your holiday via a rep that has visited every hotel on the Expedia travel site. You’ve heard of Trip Advisor, no doubt.

And the old Ring Out routine of the 80′s and 90′s is as confined to the office bin as Polaroid cameras and tape measures.

Plus, if you were buying a property, would you be convinced to pay MORE for it just because the agent involved had a Perrier fridge and a Charles Eames sofa in his office and was ‘persuasive’? Thought not….

The remnants of an old fashioned, broken form of estate agency are being laid out for all to consider.

Personal customer service, assistance with offer negotiation, oversight of your sale through to completion, valuations…..the bits of the estate agency role that are important are not, you might be surprised to learn, just exclusive to a funky Main Street office.

Because a decent online estate agent does all of this too. All of it. Despite the ever more desperate shouts from the old school that attempt to say otherwise.

I always knew that the eMoov.co.uk concept would work. Right from when I first thought of the idea back in 2006 when I first registered ‘FutureAgent.com’.

The thing is. The future really is here now. How can I be so convinced? Because the industry’s branch office based participants are protesting like never before so as to make it very apparent indeed. Didn’t a certain Mr Shakespeare say something about that?

Welcome to consumer friendly estate agency. The smarter way to sell.

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Russell Quirk is Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk the UK’s largest, value for money, digital estate agency

Category: Customer Service, Estate Agency, Fee Saving, Online | Comments: 0