A relatively new company which signs up vendors and then effectively sub-contracts their sales to strongly-performing local estate agents says it has already worked with 40 different agencies - but is refusing to work with online companies.
Movewise, which launched a year ago under the name BestBid, does not sell homes itself but nonetheless signs up vendors.
On their behalf, Movewise then identifies what it believes are the best local agents to sell the property: Movewise negotiates the commission directly with one agent and puts 0.25 per cent on top for its own fee. If the sale does not progress rapidly, Movewise brings in a second agent.
Movewise becomes the main conduit through which communications are filtered, with agents contacting the vendors directly only to arrange viewings.
“Movewise lists your property with the best agent first. We monitor activity. If viewings and offers aren't at the expected level we will immediately take action depending on feedback from the agent” according to founder Tom Scarborough, in an interview with Estate Agent Today.
“This could be to relist it or to bring in a second agent. After four to six weeks if the house is unsold we always bring in a second agent rather than reduce the price. This keeps the energy and momentum up” he continues.
“Once the property is under offer, Movewise helps push through to completion and exchange by chasing local searches and solicitors and making sure all questions are being answered quickly. There is never an assumption that ‘under offer’ means job done.
“Not all will sell every time with us, that's the nature of multi agent processes, but they all benefit from the free extra listing, the chance to sell, the reduced hassle in client sign up and the additional applicants they get. And the benefit of an independent highly experienced adviser to deliver sound supportive advice.”
Scarborough, who has a financial background, says in its first year the firm has already worked “actively” with around 40 companies, including many large scale brands as well as local companies.
He says few High Street agencies have more than 25 per cent local market share so in a competitive field it is sensible for agents to be open-minded to innovations such as Movewise.
In addition, “we do all the hard work for them” he says.
“We take all the photos and the floorplans and deliver them a client ready to sell. They just have to push a button, list it and phone their applicants. For most agents huge amounts of time and energy are spent with vendors who decide not to sell. We have vendors ready to go. No time wasted. Using Movewise is more effective and efficient for the estate agent as well as the vendor.”
He says the company does not work with online estate agencies but will relist those properties that have failed to sell through onliners.
“Our favourite relistings are online agents. It's so easy for us. Online agents don't have applicant lists because they don't have density in any area - except for Purplebricks. So we know every time they haven't been marketed fully and we just relist them with the best local agent and get the property under offer in 30 days. It's a slam dunk” according to Scarborough.
“Purplebricks is interesting because they advertise themselves as having a very high sales rate. This sounds amazing. But PB has a high sales rate not because it's amazing at selling houses but because it has a low withdrawal rate because it charges £1,000 whether they sell or not. And customers don't withdraw - [they] have a poor understanding of the benefits of relisting and are averse to a known cash loss” he claims.
“So PB customers spend 1.5 months longer on the market because customers are reluctant to switch. And guess what happens to a house price the longer it stays on the market? On average it sells for less.”
Scarborough says his vendor customers come from a range of backgrounds, and are not solely those whose homes have stuck on the market for some time.
“Home sellers are always optimistic about their sales process before it starts. They think it will go well and care mostly about the asking price and commission. No one actually knows or computes that most agents only sell 50 per cent of their listings, so in the early stages it's been those stuck on the market who aren't so optimistic anymore.
“But that's changing. People are naturally wary of something new even if it makes rational sense but this will improve over time because the results of a multi agent process are always going to be better. We create more buyers so houses sell faster more often for more.
“And for customers who start their journey with us they all do very well. We actually haven't marketed to developers yet but they are finding us and starting to list with us because they are experienced vendors and just immediately get it.”
Scarborough says his company’s sales rate target is 100 per cent.
“We keep working with clients all the way until they sell, with whoever it takes. We want to deliver the best sales process and best price for every home seller in England and make it fun and simple to get that” he concludes.
The Movewise site is here.