A website called Roofoveryourhead has launched which threatens to bypass estate agents and allow vendors to sell for free.
The site uses language similar to that on other 'for-sale-by-owner' platforms, with statements such as “we're trying to put the power back in your hands, giving control to both buyers and sellers” and “making things a little simpler and a lot cheaper in the process.”
It does not set itself up as anti-agent and claims there are “many highly professional estate agents out there who continue to do an excellent job.”
But it insists it offers a cost-effective alternative.
As with other sites of this kind, those marketing their home and those who find the site and are interested in buying, are urged to contact each other directly.
The website gives only general guidance to sellers, such as saying: “Be fair, highlight the many great aspects of your home but be honest and accurate, otherwise you’ll waste your time with viewings that come to nothing.”
It dismisses the fact that its listings do not appear on Rightmove or Zoopla by saying: “As your own roofoveryourhead website will be live on Google, the world's number one search engine, within 24 hours, with support of extensive social media, most of the planet is covered, and with the sign outside your house and local marketing to capture local buyers, we feel these portals can act as another unnecessary 'step' and expense.”
Estate Agent Today has asked the website for details of its financial model but a spokesman told EAT that "as an entirely new concept, [we] would like to prove our business worth before disclosing commercial details". However, it appears to be reliant on selling support services.
It claims to have “researched and identified financial advisers, solicitors and surveyors” - and it admits that it gets paid a fee if users instruct one of its advertisers. But it insists “this will not affect the price you pay for the services, these remain the same as if you've walked into them independently off the street.”
The spokesman also declined to give any details of those individuals or organisations behind the service.
When it comes to users who may want to advertise via the website but who have already instructed agents, the site says:
“If you are marketing your home yourself as well as employing an estate agent, you need to be aware of the terms of your contract with the agency. 'Sole agency' means you'll pay the agent's commission ONLY if they find a buyer for your home, but agree to 'sole selling rights' and you'll end up paying them even if you find the buyer.
“There are grey areas, however. If you find a buyer privately who turns out to be on the books of the estate agents you appointed, they'd have to prove the sale was as a result of their marketing activity.
“However, if a buyer knocks at your door as a result of seeing the estate agency-sign outside your house and the agents find out, their case for payment is much stronger.”
In November we reported on another new for-sale-by-owner site - this one charging £65.
You can see the new, free-to-use website for yourself here.