Estate Agency closes due to Online Competition

England – An award-winning Plymouth estate agent has closed its city centre base seven years after opening it as the industry is rocked by a triple threat from online competition, a stagnant property market and cuts to letting fees.

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Maitlands has shut the six figure outlet it opened on the ground floor of the Studio 5-11 building in Millbay Road.

The large office is now empty but still has Maitlands branding and even advertisements for properties displayed in the window.

The company, however, moved to reassure customers that it is still trading, and that no jobs have been lost.

The firm said everyone has been moved to its Plymouth Road nerve centre where it is “consolidating the Plymouth operation”.

The company’s Ivybridge and Saltash branches were said to be unaffected.

Maitlands opened in Millbay in 2012 as it looked to sell city centre properties from a base in the heart of Plymouth.

Managing director Andy Blacklock said at the time he wanted the new office to be situated away from the traditional estate agents’ cluster in Mutley Plain and North Hill, because that zone was now synonymous with students.

He said Millbay was at the centre of the regeneration of the city and the move had been planned for years.

Mr Blacklock set up Maitlands in 1994 with just two staff. As it grew and added three more offices staff levels increase to more than 40 people by 2012. Today the company employs about 20 workers.

The company also won several national awards, and in 2011 took gold for best small South West agency in the Estate Agency of the Year Awards, in association with The Sunday Times and The Times.

In the same awards, the firm’s Fine and Country brand won the best marketing category and the agency was ranked among the best in the country for its work in the community.

It also won a South West gold gong at the Daily Telegraph Estate Agents of the Year awards in 2004.

Four years later Maitlands won the best network newcomer award by Home Sale Network, a national network of 750 independent estate agents.

However, the entire home selling industry has been disrupted by technology and economic factors beyond its control.

In 2018, a study by accountants Moore Stephens found 153 estate agency firms went insolvent in the year to May 2018, a small increase on the 148 the year before.

But it also found more than 7,000 estate agents “currently show signs of financial distress”.

Source – Plymouth Herald

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