MINI – The Estate Agents Best Friend

You might be surprised but it’s what ALL good estate agents are driving these days……

The first ever MINI was produced over 46 years ago as a cheap run around, but today the little car has taken on a life of its own as one of the most popular cars in the UK.

MINI got a makeover back in 2001 and since then sales have rocketed for the funky vehicle. Today, people from Madonna to Sting are amongst thousands of MINI owners across the country.

To add to this, BMW has just announced a new investment of £100m in MINI to raise output by 20% and ultimately increase production to a whopping 200,000 cars by 2007.

One group of people who wouldn’t usually be associated with something so cute and trendy is estate agents. However a company that has really embraced MINI culture is Foxtons.

Foxtons first started its love affair with the little car back in 2001 by buying a couple of MINIs in a bid to change their image from dull sales people to fashionable estate agents. The traditional BMW driving executives soon changed their allegiance, favouring their new cars which drew in huge amounts of attention from passers by.

Today, Foxtons owns a fleet of over 370 MINIs in a wide range of eye-catching designs from camouflage to graffiti to flowers. The car vinyls are changed each year to keep them looking fresh and to keep Londoners guessing about what they will look like next.

MINIs are undoubtedly great cars for city centre companies as they are nippy, easy to drive and more importantly great to park in tight spaces. With the huge increase in city centre living in cities outside of London, the popularity of the MINI continues to grow.

Take Manchester. By the end of 2005, over 20,000 are predicted to be living in the city centre as opposed to 7,000 in 20001.To keep up with the trend, local estate agents are following Foxton’s examples and are buying fleets of MINIs to whiz around in.

City centre estate agents Hunters is one of the first to jump on the bandwagon having recently purchased a fleet of MINIs to be liveried up with the company logo and special licence plates.

John Nimbley, MINI Manager for Williams MINI Manchester, explains: “The trend for buying MINIs for city centre working and living is definitely on the increase. Several of our clients these days are estate agents who are buying the cars as they are cool, come in a great range of colours and styles and are easy to drive through the city centre. We have sold several fleets of MINIs to local companies who have found the cars to be great to drive and considerably less expensive to buy and run compared to larger vehicles.”

Another reason many businesses opt for the MINI is its exceptional performance in the re-sale market. The residual value of MINIs is extremely high compared to other cars in its sector with a second hand MINI One fetching at least £8,000.

A recent article in the Observer named MINI as the best car in its sector with a residual value of 72% compared to the worst, the Suzuki Swift, at just 25%.2 MINIs as a rule depreciate by just £1,000 per year depending on model and condition and even today, many MINI dealers have waiting lists of customers desperate to buy one of their own.

It makes sense then for companies buying fleet cars, such as Foxtons, to spend that little bit more initially to ensure they get their money’s worth when its time to trade in their vehicles for newer models.

“MINIs also make great fleet cars as they can be personalised in over 100,000 ways” adds John. “Some companies are even following Foxton’s footsteps and getting them liveried up to make them really individual and eye catching. We think this is a trend that is going to be around for a long time and one that will continue to grow as more and more people fall in love with the little car.”

MINI remains today that great car that it always was, but who would have thought back in the 1960s that the funky car would be the vehicle of choice for today’s estate agents!

1 Greater Manchester Research (2001)

2 Observer Cash (16th January 2005)