Belvoir has plans to launch an online estate agency platform within the next three to six months – and will be considering a self-service lettings offering at some point in the future.
The company announced a 62% increase in pre-tax profits and said it had polled its 300 franchisees about launching a self-service sales alternative.
Chief executive Dorian Gonsalves said: “The majority were very much in favour.”
He added: “My personal view is that all agents will be offering this in the next two or three years. Vendors are prepared to take some of the work off the agent in return for a lower fee.”
The move into online sales is due to coincide with the launch, also some three months down the line, of a low-cost entry for newly recruited franchisees. They will not have to have offices but will be able to work from home.
The company said it was not considering a self-service lettings launch for the time being but Gonsalves said: “We will be considering it in the future.”
Belvoir was traditionally a lettings-only company, and said that its business now splits 81:19 in favour of lettings, but that sales are growing, with 100 out of the 171 Belvoir franchisees trained and able to handle sales.
In the first six months of this year, Gonsalves and group chairman, Belvoir founder Mike Goddard, said that the focus had been on helping franchisees make their own acquisitions. Gonsalves said that there had been 12 so far this year, and he expects a similar number in the second half of the year.
Gonsalves said: “The group has been focused on meeting our franchisees’ entrepreneurial growth ambitions and putting them in the very best possible position to maximise their market share within their territory.
“Our franchisees have embraced the opportunity to develop their business under our Assisted Acquisitions programme, many of them doubling the size of their business overnight, and from offering additional services such as property sales and financial services.”
Gonsalves said that the company will continue to encourage its franchisees to expand by acquisition, and said that the company itself remains “very acquisitive” in a consolidating market.