A new app is being launched which allows agents to gauge possible interest in a property before it is formally put on the market.
This would allow agents, or individuals who could use the app to sell their homes privately, to test the market and create a list of possible buyers, thus saving time in the transaction when the home is formally put on sale.
The app - called Houso - is the brainchild of Ben Johnston, a residential developer for the past 13 years. The idea for the app has come about as a result of Johnston’s personal experience selling his properties through agents on the open market.
Johnston says that despite his app being available to individuals it is not intended to disrupt the work of High Street estate agents, who he wants to work with to develop and extend the product. He says he will not work with online agents as they are often the root cause of delays in transactions whereas his product is aimed at speeding up the process.
“We work a lot with downsizers and second steppers and I believe that the current route to market for both of these demographics is flawed. Both normally need to sell their home before they can move, and the majority will undertake viewings on homes before their own homes are even listed” he says.
He says that uncertainties over Brexit, the General Election and the future of stamp duty have combined to mean that millions of people may be interested in moving home, but are not satisfied with the current stock available on the portals.
Therefore Houso allows buyers to see homes not formally for sale, but which may come on in the future, and whose owners can testing the market though exposure via the app.
Johnston admits that individuals could use the app to publicise their homes without using an agent, but he is now seeking to work with local independent agents across the country.
“Initially we will allow this to agents for free to see if the concept is attractive to their clients, and we will then look to levy a small monthly fee of £50 to cover admin and hosting, and this will enable them access to the CMS system that we have built too” he has told Estate Agent Today.
Properties submitted to the app would have conventional details, photographs and an asking price - undertaken via an agent if the property is not sold directly by the owner - but there would also be an Off-Market option in which some details including the price would be redacted.
“All contact from a Buyer goes straight to the agent without any desensitization and can be picked up in the app, CMS or emailed to current CRM provider” explains Johnston.
“We are not intending on working with online providers, as our self sale route with Viewber api could be more cost effective to those concerned with price point. The agent will still be working to their required commission to represent a vendor on Houso” he says.
Within Houso there would be the opportunity for a seller or his agent or conveyancer to upload information for buyers into a ‘vault’.
This would include the likes of TA8/TA10 Boundary enquiries, Property Information Questionnaire, Land Registry documents, NHBC home warranties and more - which would also speed a sale once the property was fully on the market.
“The entire pack can be pinged over to the buyer’s solicitors via the vendors solicitor and then released upon completion. The new owner would then become custodian of the vault and then add to it should any factors change with the home” explains Johnston.
Other features of the app would include messaging and information for sellers relating to the potential buyers - this may include the numbers of offers received, whether any of the interested parties have withdrawn after making previous offers on other properties, and so on.
“This has been introduced to try to get a better understanding of who is interested in your home … this element should hopefully create a little more certainty within the chain. No agent, however good, knows what offers a potential purchaser might have tabled with other agents in or outside of their area unless they disclose them - Houso will remove this” promises Johnston.
There will also be functionality to arrange viewings and provide feedback, and to handle offers.
Johnston says he is convinced that with the three current leading portals offering what he calls “carbon copies of one giant” there is scope for a product that can give exposure to properties earlier on in the process - this would apply particularly to downsizers, he says.