Online estate agent HouseSimple has launched what it calls a “weekly pay-as-you-go estate agent service” which asks sellers to pay from £9 per week to market their home with a £495 ‘success fee’ if the property is sold.
It will run alongside its existing fixed-fee option, which involves customers paying £395 on completion of the sale or after 12 months, whichever happens first.
It claims the structure will “better meet the needs of the consumer” who may still be unfamiliar with how online agents operate and charge.
It says the pay-as-you option enables sellers to put their property on the market, and try out the online agency service, without paying the substantial upfront fees which are often criticised in the online business model.
The vendor is not tied into a contract and can cancel the service at any time, and can advertise on the agency’s website for as long as they pay the weekly charge.
"Unlike high street estate agents, who stubbornly refuse to change their commission model to provide a better value service to home sellers, we are continually striving to meet the needs of our customers” says Alex Gosling, the firm’s chief executive.
"We recognise there is still some uncertainty amongst home sellers around online estate agents, and the existing up-front fee model can dissuade people if they've never sold a property online before. We wanted to address that concern and make the service more accessible to all.”
While many analysts say the online agency sector accounts for around five per cent of all residential transactions, Gosling says it is actually only around four per cent - and that comes after a doubling of its size in the past 12 months.
Sir Charles Dunstone - founder of Carphone Warehouse and chairman of TalkTalk and of Dixons Carphone - together with his business partner, Roger Taylor, recently invested £5m into HouseSimple.
The website claims to have sold or let more than £1 billion worth of properties to date, and to save sellers on average £1.2 million in fees every month.