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The Home Owners' Alliance, which appears to be turning itself into a Which-style consumer champion, has published a guide to competing online estate agents.

The HOA, launched two years ago, says it champions the interests of Britain's homeowners and aspiring homeowners, and provides services they can trust....acting as the voice of homeowners in the media, lobbying for the interests of homeowners and aspiring homeowners in government, and campaigning against bad practices in industry.

It has previously criticised high street estate and letting agents for their alleged lack of transparency in charges, and its analysis of online agencies covers charging and what-the-vendor-gets in considerable detail.

It looks at Tepilo, Hatched, Purplebricks, House Simple, House Network and eMoov, contrasting the packages and prices they offer, and with an exhaustive ticklist of whether the different packages include or exclude floorplans, photographs, valuations, the arrangement and conducting of viewings, the provision of For Sale boards, creating an EPC and listing properties for sale on Rightmove and Zoopla.

The HOA offers arguably subjective but nonetheless well-informed comments on the different sites, too, usually from a consumer-rights' perspective.

For example about one Tepilo package it says: We are surprised they charge extra for photos and floorplans which in our view should be included.

On House Simple it says: While House Simple claim viewings organisation', in the majority of cases where enquiries come via a property portal, the viewers' details are simply passed to you to arrange the meeting direct. Other online agents provide a secretarial service, managing your viewing diary.

It also has a sharp comment about Purplebricks: Prices went up this September from £599 inc VAT to £665 exc VAT. Looks like they've got wise to this common estate agent trait of excluding VAT to appear cheaper

This is one of its comments on Hatched: We like the fact Hatched use Trustpilot to show customer reviews. We didn't like that the list of optional extras on the site doesn't include prices so you'll need to track down the costs of any extras you want.

And about eMoov it says: No online area (although one is coming soon) but viewing appointments and feedback are confirmed by email. The call centre is helpful and open seven days a week.


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