A website has officially launched this morning, aiming to push the concept of US-style For Sale By Owner online property marketing - and it’s free for sellers and landlords to use.
UcaDO calls itself a “peer-to-peer property marketplace which allows you to buy, sell, let, or rent your property for free” thanks to “cutting out expensive agents and reforming the outdated property process.”
The service, which is starting today only in London but has plans to be rolled out across the UK, has been set up by former estate agent Will Crossley-Tinney, who has worked for Savills, Knight Frank, Strutt & Parker, Andrews and other property companies.
“There are some exquisitely good estate agents and I’m in no way being critical of them, but our research shows there are 250,000 potential movers per year who don’t want to use agents at all. We’re here to help that market” he told Estate Agent Today
Listing a property takes as little as three minutes, allowing sellers and landlords to start organising viewings and offers within hours of initial marketing. Meanwhile buyers and tenants can book viewings, make offers and agree sales or lets directly with seller or landlord.
An app will allow listings to be submitted, searched or responded to from mobile phones and tablets. UcaDO will also include search filters, the ability to search and share properties as a group, day/night photos, and the ability to view any property listing on a map relative to important places such as work, schools and travel hubs.
EAT understands that there are agreements for the site to list around 31,500 student rooms and new homes from volume builders Barratt and Redrow.
Properties will not be listed on any major portal but will instead rely on UcaDO, which will be coupled to Google, TV and social media advertising to generate leads.
The site will be funded by payments made by what Crossley-Tinney calls “management fees” from so-called ‘Trusted Solution Providers’ - these range from solicitors, plumbers and electricians, to photographers and childminders according to the website. There are also property and technology investors, including High Net Worth Individuals, who have put money into the service.
“With huge demand, a lack of supply, and growing mistrust, the UK property market is currently crumbling under the pressure, and we want to provide people with another way. UcaDO allows you to gain control of your own transaction, saving you time and making the process entirely transparent” Crossley-Tinney says.
His pitch also encourages sellers or landlords to list their properties on his website as well as through conventional agencies. “The app is free for all users to list their property, be it to sell or rent, with no commission, fee or ongoing transactional costs, meaning that you’ve got nothing to lose by listing your property with UcaDO, too” he says.
EAT has been told that there will be references on the new service to alert sellers to restrictions that may be in place in existing contracts with agents.
Crossley-Tinney says the motivation behind the service was not to be anti-agent but to move away from the cost-cutting culture created in agency in recent years.
He says traditional agents’ commissions have already been cut because of competition and the advent of online agencies; even when an agent wins an instruction there’s then “a fortune to be paid to Rightmove, a fortune to the local press to let people know the property is out there on sale, and then you’re beaten up further by rival agents competing with you for the next one.”
He says of online agencies: “These disruptors have made a low level of return even lower.”
However, Crossley-Tinney insists that there is a large and highly differentiated market with room for all. He says he is not after the vendor or landlord sector that would normally use a traditional agent, nor even those who would use onliners.
“There are 250,000 people out there who would sell directly if they could, without an agent and happy to operate peer-to-peer communicating with buyers or renters. It’s that market that we want to get.”
You can see the new service here.