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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Revolutionary pay-per-view property service launches

A number of estate agencies have signed up to a service which charges £30 to view a property.

The online service, called ViewRabbit, is being tested “by a limited number of leading agents, who use it for properties with very high enquiries” according to a statement on its website.

“The pay-to-view process automatically sorts serious movers from nosey neighbours, holidaymakers, wannabees and tyre kickers who rob serious movers of precious viewing slots” the service claims.

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The successful viewer's booking fee is refunded by the agent when they complete their purchase or sign a rental contract.

The website continues: “It's so frustrating to miss out on a property because it was snapped up before you had a chance to see it. Especially if some of the people who did view were not as serious as you. With ViewRabbit's Priority View, you can secure early access to the hottest homes from just £30.”

Some properties listed on ViewRabbit can be viewed for free but these viewings can be cancelled, for example if the property is sold or let before people arrive.

Site founder Michael Riley says: “ViewRabbit is a UK company that has developed the world's first pay-to-view property platform. Allowing agents to create income, from the market's demand side, without creating a conflict of interest with their fee-paying client. 

“Reducing ‘no show’ appointments and giving the most committed buyers and tenants priority access without fear of their viewing being cancelled. 

“We started ViewRabbit because we believe the economics of the estate agency model are outdated, malfunctioning and misunderstood. 

“There are around 60 million viewings carried out in the UK each year and millions more cancelled when an agent agrees on a sale or let. 

“We believe the experience of booking viewings can be reimagined for the benefit of all owners, viewers, and agents."

The Times this morning says that the charge is currently £30, but a higher fee may be introduced for highly sought-after or more expensive properties.

You can see the new website here.

  • Andrew Dickinson

    Seriously?!

    Mike Riley

    Hey Andrew. Check out the website.

    Let me know what you think.

    We believe everyone benefits from changing how agents get paid.

     
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    Sounds great for agents but if I were the vendor I'd be very concerned that the fee would immediately turn off even serious viewers.

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    I think if a buyer was serious about making such a big commitment like buying a house then they will probably pay the fee. Its the buyers that aren't serious who I guess won't bother paying

     
  • Vilesh Rew

    This is a joke, right? And a moronic joke, at that.

    Seriously, who launches writing drivel like this, “It's so frustrating to miss out on a property because it was snapped up before you had a chance to see it. Especially if some of the people who did view were not as serious as you. ” ???
    It’s like it was written by a 12 year old.

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    To be honest, I actually prefer a less convoluted marketing strategy. At least their message is clear

     
    Vilesh Rew

    The only message that is clear that some idiot has had a brainwave and decided to “monetise viewings”.

    An easy scenario to illustrate how this system can be abused: put a house on the market at around 20% below market rate. Not so much that it causes alarm bells, but enough that it becomes a very attractive proposition to prospective buyers. 100 people booked to view. Lots of people make offers. The owners then says actually I’m not selling and takes the three grand and has a lovely holiday in Cyprus.

    I know that’s an over simplification, which was intentional to illustrate my point, but I guarantee that there will be people who will use this as a way to simply fleece money out of prospective buyers. Anyone can put their house on the market with very little in the way of upfront cost (usually just the EPC) and can take the house off the market with no cost as well. If people were willing to have an open day at their house and ended up with three grand in their back pocket as a result, it wouldn’t take long for the complaints to start rolling in.

     
    Mike Riley

    Hi Vilesh

    Regarding your comment below about sellers listing at a low price, getting income and then enjoying a nice holiday.

    That can't happen on the ViewRabbit system, the only time the seller gets the income is when it is offset against their commission account and this is handle by the agent.

    In the cases of sellers removing their property from the market, the agent either keeps the income or it stays with the charity it has been donated to.

     
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    For arguments sake let’s say they get a really popular property on the platform and book 30 viewings. They make 30 x £30 and the agent a percentage of this? Out of those 30 let’s assume 25 don’t want it and 5 want to offer. The net effect is we have 25 people unhappy they viewed a property & had to pay and 4 extremely unhappy people who offered & lost it. That’s 29 unhappy customers who will complain that such & such estate agents charged them to view a property and they got nothing from it. The “platform” won’t be the ones fielding poor reviews or angry phone calls.

    Mike Riley

    Hi Michael, thanks for your comments. It's really helpful to hear them and it all gets fed into the ViewRabbit offering. Everything we do is based upon conversations with agents.

    First thoughts, but let's have a direct chat.

    If you offset your viewing income against your seller's fee they will be VERY happy. Or donate to charity, in which case the buyers will find it hard to be negative.

    In terms of general unhappiness....you are right buyers get annoyed when they miss out.... and as an industry, we probably don't empathise with that enough. By paying, they get their viewing guaranteed and a level playing field is set. A little like the sealed bids process. So, everyone knows the deal.

    With the existing system, buyers just get a phone call saying their viewing is cancelled someone else has bought it or that the agent isn't taking any more viewings at the moment. Or.... no response at all, which having just been through the buying process is very really, with many agents.

    Have a look at the viewrabbit website and please get in touch to discuss.

    PS... It feels to me that once viewings hit a certain number the prices need to be pushed up. If, as an agent, I had sold 30 viewings..... I would personally be on the phone to everyone of my valuations telling them how amazing my marketing was, that we had to sell tickets to the launch day and I've got 29 surplus highly motivated buyers to contact immediately.

     
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    Psssst. If you are up against other agents who do not charge, this will be a great USP and will win you more instructions. It is a ridiculous idea. I could see an idea where interested parties register with the agent with their card details and then only get charged IF they don't turn up but seriously, to charge them for being interested - this will never take off.

     
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    Now in my fifth decade of estate agency, I thought I had already seen it all…….I now have !!

    Mike Riley

    I'm in my third decade and felt it might be time to evolve the process of booking viewings, which has barely hasn't change since I started! I'd love to pick your brains about it, if you want to reach out on Linkedin.

     
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    Is it legal to restrict viewings in this fashion. Surely agents have to get the best deal for their clients. How do they show they are doing that if they give priority to those that are prepared to pay ?

    Mike Riley

    Hi Adrian, There is no restriction, agents can offer as many priority paid or free slots as they like. Check out the website and contact us if you would like to discuss further.

     
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    Legal or not, it lacks transparency and as posted above, it could be seen to be in the agents best interest to undervalue to get more interest as the agent will benefit from more viewings thus increasing the £30 multiple.

     
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    Thanks Mike, but why should any agent use your service, surely it is better to charge directly and cut out the middleman.

     
  • Mike Riley

  • James Scollard

    The reason charging for viewings was made illegal , was due to agents under valuing properties, conducting 30 viewings and then withdrawing the property, and then repeating the following week.

    Mike Riley

    The charge is for priority viewing times and a guarantee the viewing will take place.

     
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    "The charge is for priority viewing times and a guarantee the viewing will take place." - really? If someone rings my agency to arrange a viewing I will arrange it regardless and I guarantee it will take place unless the seller instructs me otherwise.

     
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    Anyone who uses this in my opinion is a fool as I see it doing nothing but damage to your brand. beyond that if you are using this for lettings I look forward to you being the test case as I would be extremely shocked if this doesn’t fall foul of the tenant fee ban.

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    I agree with the bit about lettings - Shelter would have a field day.

     
    Mike Riley

    Hi Paul

    Have a look at the ViewRabbit website, you can automatically donate all of your income to charity too, which I'm guessing from a branding perspective might be good.

    What does appear to damage the reputation of the industry is tenants having their viewings cancelled because someone else has rented before they even got a chance to view. Few agents survey this section of their customer base and focus instead on landlords and tenants who achieved a successful let.

    ViewRabbit facilitates prospective tenants to either book a free viewing or pay for an earlier slot and have their viewing guaranteed. It is primarily a booking system for managing viewings on high demand properties and gaining feedback on them.

    We would love to talk more with you if you have the time.

     
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    I’m sorry Mike but this I genuinely believe it will damage reputation. And I still think from a lettings perspective it won’t be long till someone ends up in court.

     
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    Mike, Have you found a loop hole in the Tenants fee act ?

     
    Rob Bryer

    Pretty sure it was illegal to charge tenants for viewings well before the tenant fee ban came in.

     
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