Property agency mould broken by new US business model

Intero continues to think different. Check out the article below posted on Overseas Property Professional (OPP), about the influences the Intero brand is making on the UK estate agency market. Mike Bidwell, CEO of Intero UK, explains the plan to fully open for business in 2012 introducing a sophisticated version of the self-employed realtor model that works so well here in the U.S. A new approach to running overseas and domestic property agencies is being brought to Europe by the American group Intero, based on a mix of highly motivated 'self-employed' sales staff and cutting-edge online marketing techniques.

The group’s first European arm has been set up in the UK, headed by former Fine & Country chief operating officer Mike Bidwell in conjunction with the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.

“Intero UK,” Bidwell told OPP this week, “will use a business model forged by a group of ex-Realogy directors in the United States in 2002. It will positively embrace portal (syndication) and social media, online marketing and online sales leads, fast response times and lower overheads.”

Bidwell says that the Intero model grew out of the experience of the US founders, all of whom had many years of market knowledge based in big agencies like Coldwell Banker, ERA and Century 21, and a growing recognition that agencies need to much more actively work on the web.

“We want to help evolve and modernise the current estate agency model,” says Bidwell, “by bringing together the superior marketing tools of the Guild combined with our knowledge of branding from the Fine & Country network. We will incorporate some of the forward-thinking initiatives brought to us from the States so that we can help agents run their businesses more effectively and profitably.”

“The traditional agency has high overheads with high street offices. It usually has rents and rates and full-time staff to pay for … but a high employee churn rate. Too many people working in property agencies are not top producing sales professionals rather they have drifted into the business.”

Intero UK aims “to change all that and go left field,” says Bidwell, concentrating hard on its “presence on the web,” rather than “a nationwide network of independent businesses collaborating and marketing themselves under one superbrand.”

“We are in the establishment phase now and we plan to fully open for business in 2012 introducing a sophisticated and Anglicised version of the  self-employed realtor model that works so well in the USA. We are going to be a centre of excellence in property,” he adds.

Also, “we are actively recruiting now. The rapid growth of Intero in the US, from just half a dozen wholly-owned set-up offices in 2006 to 42 franchised operations now, and more than 2500 realtors on the books, shows what it can be achieved. It is all about changing mindsets, and using the power of digital and social media, the web and positive, motivated sales agents.”

The Guild is the master licence holder with Intero UK. And Intero in the US has treated the UK as it would setting up in a new state in the US.

Bidwell will ultimately be seeking “high quality and forward-thinking market leading estate agents who will be charged a fixed licence fee” to work together and adopt the Intero model either wholly or in association with the brand.

"We liked the new online sales and marketing focus of the Intero model, as well as the opportunity to create a new “middle / executive-market” agency business that could sit below a Fine & Country office, and compliment that brand.  Our research shows that the middle tier of the property market is lucrative and we see a huge opportunity for the right businesses.