The regional agency MoveSelf, which set up in 2017 as an online estate agent, is shifting emphasis towards For Sale By Owner because of difficulties competing with high-rolling digital competitors such as Purplebricks.
MoveSelf, which is based in Manchester and serving the Greater Manchester and Cheshire areas, began two years ago offering vendors a sales package for just £24.99 for a one-month contract, reducing over time to only £9.99 per month for a 12-month contract.
However, now the company is switching emphasis and its website is giving greater prominence to the For Sale By Owner concept, but with additional support if a vendor wants it.
“Getting found in cyberspace as an 'online estate agent' when companies are spending £10m and £20m a year on advertising is proving impossible” Kae Travis, founder of MoveSelf has told Estate Agent Today.
“For a small company in a competitive market offering a low cost product, advertising expenditure can be burnt through very easily and Return on Investment is challenging at best” he adds.
“Combined with the fact that 95 per cent of property professionals are high street estate agents that loathe online estate agents, gaining consumer trust is also challenging.”
Now the agency is emphasising vendors’ and landlords’ ability to list their own property for sale or let in under 24 hours, and request optional professional estate agency services should they require it.
“So the homeowner is responsible for listing the property on our website, managing the listing themselves, specifying the price (based on our valuation or otherwise), conducting viewings and negotiations. We provide recommendations to optimise the listing at the review stage” explains Travis.
“We do not provide Local Property Experts [but] owners are verified against HM Land Registry data and Know Your Customer checks” he continues.
“Unlike a typical FSBO site, though, the homeowner also has access to premium estate agency services such as photography, floor plans, sales progression, EPCs, reference checks, advertising boards and advisers. Our packages are completely bespoke as opposed to a 'one size fits all' approach” he concludes.
These premium services cost from £12 for a tenant credit check and £20 for a ‘floor plan sketch conversion’ to £60 for an EPC and £75 for a professional floor plan and £75 for professional photography.
If the owner merely wants to list the property for sale or for rent, this is free of charge but it lapses each month to encourage owners and landlords to actively manage their listing, adjusting its price or description as appropriate.