Online estate agent plans to roll out ‘sell homes for free’ service

Competition to attract house sellers’ business is being ramped up – as an online estate agent plans to roll out a “free-of-charge” service.

Housesimple said the free service, which has been trialled in selected postcodes in Yorkshire and the North West since earlier this year, will now be rolled out permanently across these markets.

In the coming months, the free service will be rolled out further to other specific towns and cities across the UK.

Housesimple said the eventual goal is to offer the free service nationwide.

Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer at Housesimple, said: “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.”

The free service has initially been made available in postcode 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.

Sellers will continue to have listings advertised on websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla and professional support which includes receiving local expert valuations, with photos and floorplan and a “for sale” board.

Rather than charging commission or fees for selling homes, Housesimple will make its money earning referral fees from “no-obligation” services provided to sellers and buyers such as mortgage, conveyancing and insurance advice.

Estate agents’ fees vary, but they often traditionally revolve around a certain percentage of the selling price of a home.

Some sellers may find they can haggle the percentage fee down.

Housesimple calculates that, based on the average property price in the UK of £226,798, sellers could potentially save over £3,000 in commission.

Some agents charge set fees. For example, Purplebricks has a fixed fee of £899, rising to £1,399 in London and surrounding postcodes.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance which runs a comparison table of all online estate agents, told the Press Association: “It’s good to see innovation in the sector.

“Low cost – or no cost – options like this can help with what is the very expensive task of selling a home in the UK.”

She said generally speaking, consumers looking for an estate agent should check there are no hidden costs and shop around to get the best deals on other services.