The Bartlett School of Planning


Helen Price

Research subject

The Estate Agency Business Model and the Role of PropTech

Primary supervisor: Dr Danielle Sanderson
Secondary supervisor: Mr Peter McLennan
Starting date: September 2022
Projected completion date: September 2026

It is widely acknowledged that the process of buying and selling a home is one of life’s most stressful. This research will investigate the processes involved in housing transactions to identify obstacles and how these might be overcome. The research will also examine potential PropTech solutions and make recommendations to policy makers about the need for changes to legislation when procedural or technological solutions will not suffice.

The value of this research is that enormous amounts of time, money and energy are wasted through inefficient processes. Estate agency as a business is poorly understood in the academic literature. At the start of 2019, UK residential property was estimated to be worth £7.29 trillion; and a quarter of UK residential sales fell through. The current process is inefficient, with aborted transactions, gazumping, mortgage hold-ups, legal impediments etc. adding to costs. Improved efficiency, including reduced customer effort and a better understanding of how platform technology affects residential property markets, would help the residential real estate industry and its stakeholders.

Research Objectives

  1. To analyse the “customer journey” and processes involved in buying and selling residential property, to identify the taxonomy of the sales process.
  2. To identify impediments to efficiency in the current system and propose improvements. This would involve modelling the current metrics against standard B2C practices and creating new metrics as necessary.
  3. To quantify potential gains that can be achieved by making the estate agency processes more efficient.
  4. Identify ways of streamlining the transaction process using an appropriate business model and reducing the effort and stress involved by using PropTech.
  5. To identify 'institutional' agency issues and highlight aspects of the residential transaction process where changes in legislation are required.
  6. Devise a toolkit, including techniques for estate agents to improve the service they deliver to customers, creating a business model with key metrics for customer satisfaction.



I grew up in Shropshire and now live across the “Border” in Powys near Welshpool. I am a Chartered Building Surveyor with undergraduate degrees in Humanities and Building Surveying; and postgraduate degrees in Architectural History and Business Administration, three of which I obtained whilst working full-time. I have over forty years’ experience in the construction and property professions. I am passionate about the multi-faceted dynamics of the UK residential property market.


2000 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Guidance Note: Building Maintenance Strategy and Procurement.

Conference papers/presentations
  • 2003 Social Housing University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education C19 Working Class Housing – The Lilleshall Company.
  • 1997 CoBRA Conference Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Obsolescence of Agricultural Buildings in Shropshire.

1992 to 2003 University of Huddersfield Department of Architecture Senior Lecturer. Various modules undergraduate and postgraduate levels and dissertation supervision. 1999 to 2003 Course Director BSc (Hons) Building Conservation pathway.

  • 2000 to 2018 RICS Assessor of Professional Competence Building Surveying Division
  • 2003 to 2007 Member RICS Professional Conduct Board
  • 2000 to 2003 Member RICS Professional Conduct Panel
  • 2002 to 2005 Member RICS Building Conservation Forum Board
  • 2002 to 2005 Branch Secretary Institute Historic Building Conservation (North)
  • 2000 to 2003 Governor Wakefield College
  • 2000 to 2003 Member RICS Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Board
  • 1997 to 2000 Member of the RICS Building Survey Maintenance and Practice Panel