Sarah Beeny’s private house sale site has now been changed into an online estate agent.
It now prominently displays the Rightmove logo on its home page, saying that is where home buyers look.
In a move that must once have been thought as unlikely as Rightmove displaying the Tepilo logo on its home page, Beeny wrote to registered users at the end of last week.
She told them that they needed to reactivate their accounts, offering them a 50% discount if they do so before the end of this month.
The site had previously been free to users, but despite a high profile there had been little to no documentary evidence as to its success.
In her email, she said: “I'm very pleased to tell you that we’ve listened to the requests from many of you and relaunched my property website, Tepilo, as an online-only estate agent. The new site has an updated design that also looks fabulous on a mobile.
“Changing from being simply an advertising space to an estate agent means that we are now able to ensure your home is seen on property portals such as Rightmove, where as I am sure you all know the vast majority of buyers begin their search.
“To enable this to happen we have become members of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme, and it is now required that homes for sale on our site must be verified by a visit from one of our agents (rental properties don’t need this).
“Sadly, in order to conform with this legislation we are no longer allowed to offer a totally free service to people selling their homes on Tepilo. We have however worked hard to ensure our costs represent very good value for money and are of course still a fraction of what you might pay with many High Street agents.”
On the Tepilo site, almost the first message visitors see alongside the Rightmove logo is: “Tepilo can now advertise your property on the UK’s largest property portal.”
EAT reported two weeks ago that Beeny’s site would convert into an online agent, in conjunction with Essex-based agents Think Property, but we had been assured that it would continue to offer a free service to private sellers simply wishing to list.
In fact, the new Tepilo service does not seem to do this.
It offers three packages: the cheapest, at £195 upfront, does not include a Rightmove listing. The ‘best value’ package costs £595 upfront and does include Rightmove; the third package, which also includes Rightmove, costs £195 upfront and £895 on completion. All prices are quoted exclusive of VAT.
It claims to offer large savings for those who take the £595 option. For example, it says that the seller of a £600,000 property – the price at up to which a buyer can use the Help to Buy 95% mortgage scheme – would save £10,086.
The new Tepilo site also features its first new blog for almost a year.
Written by Beeny, it explains why she has decided to change Tepilo’s business model.
She said that despite being the leader in its field, and having 45,000 registered users, it had to find a way of making money.
The site plainly has some way to go. When we searched three sizeable local towns near us (Reading, Basingstoke and Fleet) for properties for sale, we found nothing at all.
Instead, we were given the message: “Bear with us for a bit: we need to physically verify all the properties that are being listed as being For Sale. As soon as we’ve done this, we’ll start adding them to the site.”