The UK’s Leading Letting Agency Martin & Co Challenges Estate Agency with New Pick ‘n’ Mix Concept

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Award winning national lettings chain Martin & Co has thrown down the gauntlet to challenge estate agents and the established commission system for residential sales in the UK. With a price busting service that claims to reduce the cost of selling by up to 90%.

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With advances in technology the overwhelming majority of buyer enquiries now come over the Internet, the current system is outdated, over-priced and we believe the selling public are ready to embrace technology as they have done in several other sectors.

Award winning national lettings chain Martin & Co has thrown down the gauntlet to challenge estate agents and the established commission system for residential sales in the UK. With a price busting service that claims to reduce the cost of selling by up to 90%.

Martin & Co Martin & Co’s Managing Director Ian Wilson comments, “With advances in technology the overwhelming majority of buyer enquiries now come over the Internet, the current system is outdated, over-priced and we believe the selling public are ready to embrace technology as they have done in several other sectors, to significantly bring down the cost of selling”

The new “Pick ‘n’ Mix” service allows sellers to utilise and only pay for the elements of the service they require, but with the guidance and support of their local Martin & Co office. Ian continued, “The current “no sale - no fee” system penalises motivated sellers as those that do sell have to subsidise all the overpriced properties that the agent has to market. However our service favours the motivated sellers as they ensure their price is correct and as a result pay a fraction of the typical fee”.

The benefits of the move into estate agency are expected to be two-fold. Firstly, Martin & Co, which has 187 offices spanning the length of the UK including London, is expected to retain investor buyers as new landlord clients. Research conducted by Martin & Co revealed that 60% of landlords polled had used the lettings arm of the estate agency which had sold them the property. 70% of investors organised their buy-to-let mortgage on the strength of a recommendation from their estate agent.

Secondly, a sluggish sales market with the average UK estate agent selling only one property per week means that there are frustrated sellers who might consider letting in the short to medium term, but ultimately will want to sell and Martin & Co wants to widen its appeal to this group.

“Frankly, traditional estate agency practise penalises the motivated sellers who take the trouble to prepare their property for sale and set a realistic price. They pay commission which subsidises the sellers who are over-priced and don’t achieve a sale. Our model encourages sellers to have realistic price expectations because the faster they sell the more they will save on our fees” added Ian.

All Martin & Co sales listings will display a rental valuation and a Buy to Let (BTL) mortgage quote, to help give its savvy clients an indication of their potential monthly income.

Having established itself as the biggest specialist lettings network in the UK, Martin & Co is perfectly positioned to offer sellers expert advice on whether their property would be suitable for investment. Martin & Co has a large database of
chain-free investment buyers on its books and it’s confident it can achieve quick sales when properties are correctly priced.

The Martin & Co network has grown at 20% per annum compound for nine years in a rental market that has grown 7.5% per annum compound over the same period. This is against a backdrop of new buy-to-let (BTL) lending, which total £3.7bn (32,300 loans) in Q1, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), and was 32% higher year-on-year. Further, BTL mortgages represented an estimated 12.8% of the total value of outstanding mortgages at the end of Q1, up from 12.6% at the end of 2011 and 12.2% at the end of Q1 2011. The total number of buy-to-let mortgages stands at just over 1.4 million, worth a total value of £159.4 billion.

Martin & Co franchisees currently have the option of whether or not to expand their service to include sales. “It’s a new venture and we expected an understandable degree of caution by our franchisees. In fact, in just four months 80 offices have completed a very rigorous sales training programme and we expect to enter 2013 with the majority of our offices offering a sales service. Unlike businesses which depend on Estate Agency for their lifeblood we already have a proven, stable business model with dependable income streams. We will be offering joint lettings and sales franchises to the public later this year”.

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Jayne Codling

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