While the City salivates over Purplebricks, Countrywide has been quietly rolling out a huge network of agents who offer a very similar service.
While there’s enormous interest in ‘online-only’ and hybrid agents such as Hatched and Purplebricks, a lesser-known online operation has been rolling out across swathes of the UK.
Countrywide revealed this morning how its digital ‘hybrid’ roll-out has been progressing over the past year, and it’s significant. So far this has included a four-phase launch that now covers 25% of its business, and 200 branches.
After trialling it with three brands in June last year – Austin & Wyatt in the SW, Frank Innes in the East Midlands and Spencers in Leicestershire – it then introduced the offering to a further three agencies in November. These were Carsons in Hampshire, Miller Countrywide in Cornwall and Devon and Fulfords in Somerset.
In January this year it also added its hybrid offering to Entwistle Green in Liverpool and Lancashire and says that it has shown “the most positive results to date”. A launch then followed last month at Bridgfords, the largest agent to do so thus far.
Benefits of Countrywide’s hybrid model, which charges a £695 to £995 fee (see ad above) for a Purplebricks-style service during which vendors have to conduct both their own viewings and sale price negotiations, have included increased traffic to agent’s websites. Also, it generates more leads compared to agents with the traditional, full-service offering.
Results from its original trial brands from earlier in 2016 reveal that having a ‘hybrid’ option drove 11% more valuations, 18% more instructions and 9% more sales, all without impacting fee levels, the company says.
The platform that drives the offering across the different brands has so far seen 2,700 online accounts set up and 1,000 valuations booked online.
“The launch of our digital sales pilot in summer 2016 has surpassed our ambitions and we have now accelerated the roll-out to more than 25% of our network,” says Chief Executive Alison Platt.