Celebrity property expert Sarah Beeny has firmly dismissed speculation that there was any uncertainty over the future of her online estate agency Tepilo.
Industry sources have contacted Estate Agent Today in recent weeks claiming there was some doubt whether Beeny would remain involved in Tepilo, which she set up in 2009, and possibly whether the service itself would close.
“That’s completely untrue. Tepilo is exceeding expectations and it’s the most exciting project that I’m involved in” Beeny has told Estate Agent Today.
“It’s part of a revolution that is changing the way we sell houses, so why would it change and why wouldn’t I want to be involved?” she said.
Beeny dismissed the speculation as probably coming from publicity-hungry rivals, and says evidence of Tepilo’s continuing success is that it is commissioning further TV advertising to follow up an existing campaign “which is producing a vast amount of business.”
Tepilo was set up by Beeny, originally as a free-to-use online platform where sellers uploaded their own property details and handled most of the sales process themselves. Then in late 2013 it became an agency operating online, keeping the option of a no-fee platform but also offering traditional agency-style servies.
It merged at that time with Essex-based agency Think Property, allowing customers to either pay £195 up-front and £895 on completion - so a total of £1,090 - or pay £595 upfront and zero on completion. In return, traditional agency services including taking photographs, creating a floor plan, obtaining an EPC and handling viewings would be conducted by a network of agents.
Beeny says this change was “entirely because we operated on the internet” and has been a triumph for consumers.
“High Street estate agents can offer people what they want to offer and it’s take it or leave it. In that model, eventually customers have to buy what they’re offered. But on the internet we have to react to what consumers and customers want” says Beeny.
“I come from a very hands-on approach and I thought many would want to do everything themselves, but many do not, hence why we now offer a range of services.”
Tepilo’s telephone answering service claims the firm has arranged 4,420 viewings in the past month, says it generated £3.5m in savings in fees compared to those offered by High Street agents, and also says it sells on average a week faster than other online agencies.
Earlier this year Selling Up - a comparison site analysing online agents - used Zoopla listings to assess rivals’ performances. It put Purplebricks at the top in terms of stock, followed by eMoov, but with Tepilo moving up strongly as a result of an advertising campaign on TV, across the London Underground and in some national newspapers.