Online estate agency Housesimple has announced they have stopped charging house sellers commission for marketing their properties.
The fifth largest single brand estate agency in the UK, Housesimple, intends to make its money from third-party referral fees instead.
The company, which currently operates only in the North, has already trialled its fee-free service in 27 areas across Yorkshire and the North West. They will be rolling it out to other regions across the UK over the next few months, although no definite timescale has been given, and it will not yet cover the entire country.
The free service is currently in certain areas including; Lancaster, Bradford, Harrogate, Ripon, York, Preston, Blackpool, Blackburn, Halifax, Leeds, Hull, Doncaster, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Sheffield, Stockport, Lincoln, Warrington, Chester, Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent.
It’s not the first time that Housesimple have been pioneers in the estate agency business.
They were one of the first online estate agencies, even if they’re not the best known. And they were the first to trial online viewings using Facebook Live, with considerable success.
No loss of service
The group says that home movers can expect to receive the same level of service as currently enjoyed.
Properties will still be marketed on Zoopla, Rightmove and other sites, and sellers will still enjoy valuations, photos, and floorplans, a ‘for sale’ board and a dedicated team to lead them through the complications of the selling process.
Housesimple’s proposal will save homeowners considerable sums of money. A traditional bricks and mortar estate agency can earn up to 3% commission per house sale.
Based on the average property price of £227,000, this is equivalent to £6,780. For online estate agencies, the fee is usually around £900.
Alternative business plan
Of course the company still needs to generate income and it plans to do so by earning referral fees from services associated with house selling and buying, such as mortgages, conveyancing and insurance.
Housesimple has its own mortgage service, which it set up in conjunction with the Mortgage Advice Bureau in January. It is believed that they currently have ten brokers, although due to waiting for regulatory authorisation, the service has yet to be officially launched.
Sam Mitchell, chief executive of Housesimple, said: ‘The ability to sell a home through advertised listings and professional support, without paying any estate agent fees, is unique in the UK.
‘Housesimple is the only company to offer this service and we expect it will quickly become the most popular way to sell a property.
‘This is a bold move but one that has been tested. Within just six months of trialling this offer we’ve increased our property listings five-fold and are now one of the leading agents by listings in cities like Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.’
However, there is criticism of the idea.
Buying agent Henry Pryor told This is Money: ‘This sounds like a completely mad idea dreamed up in a pub using a focus group who started drinking at 5pm.
‘While estate agents have for a long time earned money from kickbacks from mortgage lenders and conveyancing firms this takes the idea to it’s logical, pitiful conclusion.
Alternatively, if you’re not located in one of the areas Housesimple covers, you can use our quick online estate agent finder to discover the best online agent for you: