Tesco is set to re-enter estate agency – with houses listed on the Tesco website – through Spicerhaart.
The move comes over a year after Spicerhaart’s purchase of Tesco Property Market from the supermarket chain.
The launch could be as early as the New Year and last night Tesco was confirmed as being involved.
A few locations will carry out the ground-breaking trials. It is thought there will be some valuers on the ground to win instructions but the bulk of the operation would be based centrally.
The operation is being launched under the banner of Indigo.
Yesterday evening, a spokeswoman confirmed to Estate Agent Today: “Spicerhaart is moving ahead with its new online estate agency business which will launch in the first half of 2010, subject to market conditions.
“The branding of the project, which is codenamed Indigo, has yet to be finalised and work on the software solution is continuing, with recruitment of web designers taking place.
“The business will start with a soft launch in a small number of locations which have yet to be finalised, although areas under consideration include Milton Keynes, Reading and Brighton.
“The agency is owned and controlled entirely by Spicerhaart and the management team, and will have a variety of business partners, including Tesco.”Although, as confirmed by Spicerhaart, details are still being worked on, the new business is unlikely to copy the former, and swiftly ill-fated, Tesco Property Market model.
This launched, apparently as a property portal, in June 2007 to huge controversy, as it was regarded as a ‘Trojan horse’, using agents’ listing to get private sales.
Tesco Property Market, then headed by Mark Davis, also offered to sell houses for a flat £199 fee.
Agents who found that their properties had been added to the Tesco Property Market site without their knowledge quickly demanded their removal. Portals saw it as a huge threat. Fish4, which had supplied the properties, cancelled its contract within the first week. Rightmove and others refused from the start to give it access to their properties.
However, in September 2007, Tesco Property Market suspended its service when the OFT advised that it was acting as an estate agent, meaning that it would have to comply with the Estate Agents Act and other legislation.
In April 2008 it was announced that the business was being sold to Spicerhaart. Speculation was that the business had been sold cheaply.
Spicerhaart’s chief executive Paul Smith said at the time: “Spicerhaart is developing a new, innovative virtual estate agency business in partnership with Tesco, who will be the main distribution partner. This business… will offer a high quality estate agency service.”
Indigo is a company based in Crawley, West Sussex. It is listed online with related companies, including Darlows, Felicity J Lord and Haart. Tesco is not mentioned, in line with last night’s comment to EAT.
Separately online can be found an advertisement for a web designer to work for Indigo. Indigo is described in the advert as formerly Tesco Property Market, now owned by Spicerhaart.
There are four ‘Tesco Indigo’ companies listed on the Tesco website. These include one called Tesco Indigo, a private company incorporated on July 8, 2007, and another called The Tesco Indigo Limited Partnership, incorporated the same day.
Tesco was invited yesterday to comment on its possible move back into the estate agency market, but has so far not done so.