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Written by rosalind renshaw

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.”

http://www.tepilo.com/

Comments

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    PeeBee, yorkshire has been doing just fine this year - best year out of the last 4 by far.
    I think I've tracked down the property in question - and a good example of frustrating estate agency - I'd said 275k, reluctantly put it on at 325k - we did not sell it and the vendor therefore thought we were useless. It went on woth a competitor at far less .......319,950, and it is now................................................withdrawn completely from the market, interestingly i spoke to their new agent who told me he had taken it off (not the vendor) as the vendor wanted to increase his asking price as prices were going up! Anyone know of a shop who could flog me some hindight?

    • 16 October 2013 12:39 PM
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    tya - gaw bloimey, mate - if you think YOUR memory is befuddled you should have a root around inside MY head!! ;o)

    Erm... going back a year or so if I remember correctly - you'd said about £275k and the vendor wanted over £300. You took it on fully expecting it to need to be reduced one or six times to get a buyer. You and I were 'discussing' whether or not you might just achieve slightly more than your expectation by taking this action - closest we've been to a fall-out If memory isn't failing me again...!

    Sorry can't be more specific but of course you weren't quoting addresses or postcodes at the time!

    One way or another - how is the market really doing in your little green patch of the world?

    • 16 October 2013 12:24 PM
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    peebee - yes i haven't been about much recently - too busy selling houses in this 'bubble'. My memory is decreasing as my waist is increasing - if you can recall the details of said property - i'll gladly report back and find out what happened to it

    • 16 October 2013 11:14 AM
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    Hi Peebee

    Thank you taking the time to reply, I think may be confusing valuation methodology and accuracy with achieved to value ratio. If you set the value could you prove you are more likely to achieve it than another agent.

    Re: fsbo
    Billshit it may be but would you care to expand
    let me be clear I am not saying not being on portals is the only reason it fails, but it is a major factor in my opinion. Is there a bigger one? Would a retired agent going Fsbo reach the widest possible market without a portal?

    • 15 October 2013 19:57 PM
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    Lord, the timing of it

    Just met a long term but ‘infrequent’ builder contact ive done deals with over the years and he has more or less laughed his willy off………..

    He had a call from a chap who wanted to meet and talk about his mums place, nice lady with a ramshackle gaff and she wanted to move to a flat in the town centre with no stairs or garden, so, the place is a pretty but shagged Victorian bay fronted thing with a margin in it as a refurb (not sure you could value it online) with a big strip of garden on the side, easy to picture it?

    Anyway her son clearly wanted to keep his poor old mum away from nasty estate agents who’d charge her 10 grand to sell the place so the clever dick took care of his mum by finding a buyer himself and what a job he did, cash sale, quick exchange with a long completion so she could get a flat, and the builder didn’t even bother with a survey, just paid the money no messing, no estate agents……lovely

    So there you are his mum saved £10k, he’s a clever lad and he’s got the cash she doesn’t spend and the value of her new flat being left in the will at some point

    Just a shame he didn’t get an opinion on the £700 grands worth of double building plots he missed on the strip on the side that my guy now has planning on

    FSBO – brilliant

    Jonnie

    • 15 October 2013 15:40 PM
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    the Yorkshire agent - great to 'see' you back again, good Sir!

    Still keeping the home fires burning, I take it?

    So - it's been yonks now since that take-on at way too much money - what happened in the end, mon ami?

    I needs to knows... ;o)

    • 15 October 2013 15:17 PM
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    From the site's T&C's page:

    "By choosing any of the options, T****o will be instructed by you upon a multi agency basis for a maximum term of 6 months. After your 6 months marketing period expires (or when your property is sold / exchanged) your property will be taken off all portals. If you wish to extend your marketing period you can do so by purchasing extra months. All costs quoted on the site will be subject to VAT. "

    SIX MONTHS - then pay per month after!!

    Some poor bu99ers will fall for it, I'm sure.

    And to cap it all...

    "7.2 To ensure compliance with the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 and to ensure that neither T****o nor the seller becomes involved in any legal action, the Seller must inform T****o immediately of any incorrect information within the sales particulars from the outset or at any point during the marketing or sale."

    Hmmm... is that the same Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 that was, as of 1st October, dumped in accordance with The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (Repeal) Order 2013?

    Rank amateurs - and people expect results.

    • 15 October 2013 14:11 PM
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    sorry - I should have mentioned - the property was on with an 'internet agent' at 450 and then 350. It was never 'worth' 200k more than my figure. But your point is correct about the mistrust as unfortunately too many agents over value to get the listing and likewise too many internet or pay up front agents put houses on at any price - but this example was one of the most extreme I have come across.

    • 15 October 2013 14:03 PM
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    @ The Yorkshire Agent - I agree with Big Ted here, you wouldn't get a second cuppa off me either if you told me you thought my property is worth 200,000 less that it was 7 years ago, recession on no recession.

    It is interesting how these discrepancies in valuations are starting to stand out like a sore thumb in the public eye, when programmes such as homes under the hammer have three independent agents to look at a property, who then end up giving valuations which sometimes can differ by 30 - 50 grand either way..

    Like Big Ted said "No wonder the public mistrust estate agents"

    • 15 October 2013 13:50 PM
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    @Yorkshire Agent, what do you think that your vendor thinks about estate agents expert local knowledge ? 2/3 expert valuations between £450k an £250k.

    No wonder the public mistrust estate agents.

    • 15 October 2013 13:31 PM
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    ahhh, but PeeBee, did you not check out her website, it's amazing it actually can do a valuation of your property on the website! damn clever stuff. I've just tried it and was hoping to be able to say that it's just valued my house wrongly etc etc, but I couldn't get it to work. Having said that at least it probably won't have a tool built in there to artificially inflate valuations to get the listings - like many real estate agents seem to. This weeks classic - I went to see a property which has been on and off the market for 7 yes 7 years, with original asking price 450k, and the most recent asking price 350k - and guess what my figure was...................£250k (max) - I wasn't offered a 2nd cuppa

    • 15 October 2013 12:38 PM
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    Oooh! And I forgot to mention we have already been in touch and offered Tepilo an open invitation to list their properties with us.

    • 15 October 2013 12:26 PM
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    @eMoov.co.uk - "Is a picture of Sarah Beeny on the website worth a 90% premium?"

    Probably not, but she, like Rightmove, is a household name and the public may just look at the site, which of course she isn't sitting in her office running herself, and think

    "Oh look, it's Sarah, she's really good on tele so she must know what she is talking about."

    It's like watching a middle aged bearded Hugh Laurie, rubbing moisturiser into his face, in an artistically photographed advert while saying "I keep myself looking this good by using such and such a brand."

    Or our good friend Phil Spencer becoming the face of Zoopla.

    The public's perception of what is actually best is very easily swayed according to who the person is, who is telling them what is best..

    I think it will be interesting to see how Tepilo fares over the coming year.

    • 15 October 2013 12:23 PM
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    Previous poster - WELL SAID!

    Unfortunately, there are a multitude of 'traditional' Agencies who believe that the internet IS the way they sell...

    • 15 October 2013 12:05 PM
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    If anyone really thinks a portal will sell a property for the best price, fastest, they darn well have never been in agecy or if they are a not very good at it.

    Its not about a PC its about how the agent sells. Any fool can get on rightmove, ask sarah B, but can you sell? Thats why the best agents prosper and grow, others fail or stay poor.

    • 15 October 2013 11:20 AM
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    Happy Chappy - "Hatched and Emoov perform just as well as many traditional agents on price achieved to valuation"

    You really think so?? From their respective websites...

    "Will you value my property for me?

    We are able to provide you with a guide as to what your home is worth based on land registry figures and other estate agents web sites. We would also recommend that you carry out some of your own research as to the value of your home - Ask your neighbours what they bought their home for, look in the local property paper and check out the internet for any direct competition to your home."

    and...

    "Q. Will you come out to value my home?

    A. Not as such. Initial valuation visits are very ‘resource hungry' and one of the reasons that our high st competitors are so expensive."

    Your response in view of the above, please, Sir?

    "The reason Tepilo and all other FSBO portals do and will fail (regardless of fee) is they cannot get access to the most powerful advertising and search medium i.e. the portals."

    With all due respect, Sir (and you know that I DO in fact generally respect you and your views)... that is billshut.

    • 14 October 2013 21:03 PM
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    Trevor K, I respect you and of course agree that If a property is undersold then the vendor loses, however, in respect to price achieved it is very difficult to prove that one model or one agent is more successful than another.

    Hatched and Emoov perform just as well as many traditional agents on price achieved to valuation

    The reason Tepilo and all other FSBO portals do and will fail (regardless of fee) is they cannot get access to the most powerful advertising and search medium i.e. the portals.

    • 14 October 2013 20:06 PM
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    I think anyone that has the time to dig about will find press releases from when it was first launched clearly saying it will be the new way of doing it, high street agents are dead, we all need to wise up etc, etc

    So they charged zip all, get free coverage / promotion in the Sun every week and all fronted by the enchanting Ms Beeny. You'd think she would have had it off and been able to bang out banner advertising and referral deals on conveyancing etc by the lorry load and make it pay.........but she didn't.

    Well celebrity backed and free didn't cut it, can't see charging the terminally tight and daft sector of the market will work either

    I'm putting my fees up.

    Jonnie

    • 14 October 2013 18:47 PM
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    From the website:
    "A modern estate agent – offering all the services a traditional estate agent does, but online."

    Oh, dear - here we go again methinks. I'll keep this short...

    NO - YOU DON'T!

    WHEN you do, THEN claim that to be fact.

    In the meantime... watch out for the ASA...

    • 14 October 2013 14:25 PM
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    Where is all the fun in all of this ? !!!

    Great delight has been had over the years from getting an EA round to a property which is a real dump & getting the usual feedback about how "nice it is" and then ... drum roll.... the "valuation" which is usually 120-150% of reality. Keeps em chuckling for days.

    • 14 October 2013 13:08 PM
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    If I were Zoopla CEO I would be miffed to think that with all the money and huffing and puffing even old Beanie knows you have to be on rightmove

    • 14 October 2013 12:38 PM
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    I'm sure I read that, bizarrely, CPR's will not apply to 'private' sale of houses yet will apply to both vendor and agent where an agent is used.

    So where tepilo was a limited online portal allowing private vendors to market, it was most probably exempt CPR compliance.

    Now it has had to become an agent (er, and excuse me, who says that agents are 'not allowed' to work for free? Of course we are allowed its just kinda stupid) it surely means that for both sales & lettings both owner and agent need to comply with CPR.

    She can't be a mug, yet if she thinks that Lettings does not need to comply she is heading for deep poo-poo. Did she not get the ARLA mag about Japanes Knotweed to start with ? Oh, is she not a licensed agent then? Oh well.

    • 14 October 2013 11:30 AM
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    Please post your Advert for you online business here....

    • 14 October 2013 11:30 AM
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    Add in photos and a floor plan and the Tepilo offering at £864.00 (inc vat) is almost TWICE our cost of £474.00 and which includes those vital elements.

    Is a picture of Sarah Beeny on the website worth a 90% premium?

    I doubt that the consumer will agree it does....

    • 14 October 2013 11:29 AM
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    @anonymous coward

    "and you have a real, real problem."

    So they have been saying since the internet started. No one sits in an Ivory tower - agents adapt. If they dont, they die. Many have, but the good ones grow.

    They said on line shopping would do the same - but have you been to shopping centre on a saturday? The supermarkets have more outlets than ever, they have just adapted their business model.

    Agents do the same. I read an article a while back saying the difference between an agent and an internet agent was an office. All successful agents are internet agents these days and usually will rank higher on search engines.

    Ros - it was an article / blog on here - it would be good if you will still have it as its relevant - it was something on the lines of 'Do internets agents threaten traditional agents"

    • 14 October 2013 11:17 AM
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    First, let me agree with you all that this is a rum deal - to say "free forever" and then do a complete "U-turn" is quite thoroughly embarrassing and somewhat unfair, but that said the website users can always vote with their feet (or mice...).

    This lady IS for turning (couldn't resist it).

    Let me also say that I am an agent.

    For all the other comments made, you really do need to be careful of sitting in your ivory towers.

    Consider that the Sony Walkman ruled the world, until the iPod came along and took the crown and most of Sony's profitable business.

    If an EPC guy can visit a property for less than £50, then he can do a floorplan and photos for an extra £100. £150 per visit - 2 properties a day and he is on £70k a year with very little outlay other than petrol - how many negotiators earn that?

    If he is specifically employed by the online agency to do this, even if he is self employed (probably with a service level agreement contract) then the online agency have covered their bases.

    Are you suggesting that in this day and age of data overload that Mr & Mrs Average could not have a quick look around to find out how much all of their neighbours sold for?

    Add 10% because it was last year, add £20k because my house is better than your house, add £10k for negotiating room.

    That's what most agents do as far as I can tell - you can harp on about "local knowledge" all you like, but most negotiators tend to be early 20's men with fast car fetishes, although I must admit that more and more ladies are working in the industry these days.

    The average property owner has very little respect for estate agents because our public image is so slimy. Add to that the fact that Rightmove makes most of them think "you agents are all the same aren't you?" and you have a real, real problem.

    • 14 October 2013 11:06 AM
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    I've done the occasional broadcast with Sarah over the years and she wrote to me announcing her change of modus operandi last week. Herewith my reply :

    Dear Sarah,

    Well you’ve joined our ranks at last – mind you it’ll not be all good news, being a TV presenter/journo etc is one thing, but to now have to admit to being an estate agent in polite company will get you a very different reaction! After all we are known as ‘the spawn of Satan’ by The Mail see http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/news_features/Proud-of-what-we-do-Big-T-stands-up-for-estate-agents and down there with bankers and politicians in most polls! So you’ll have to get used to opprobrium for the first time!!

    Good luck though!

    Love,

    Trevor
    www.trevorkentmedia.com

    I agree that this form of agency operation is fraught with problems especially for amateurs!

    • 14 October 2013 10:20 AM
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    "Tepilo can now advertise your property on the UK’s largest property portal."

    Not exactly what we know as a USP.

    We can do that - and guess what? We wont charge you up front.

    • 14 October 2013 09:52 AM
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    I have always believed that arms length selling without specific knowledge is a dangerous thing - especially where fees are charged upfront.

    As Richard says, with the requirements under CPRs Ms Beeny is very brave. When the staff visit properties, what advice are they qualified to give?

    It's a scattergun pay per listing approach with an actual sale nothing more than a windfall.

    Pay per listing - remember Seekers? That went well.

    We invest in selling and make a loss if we fail. We focus on providing a service from instruction to completion.

    Getting paid on Tepilos model is little better than sending an invoice for a renewal on a let where you have just happened to discover the tenant remains without actually being the effective cause of the same.

    With all this talk about agents overcharging, how can they justify £895 + vat in the event a buyer appears from a paid for listing on a 3rd party portal?

    • 14 October 2013 09:16 AM
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    Have you not looked at the new CPR advice? Every property needs visiting, including lettings. The advice so far also suggests that every agent is an expert and expected to report on any issues which may affect a buyers purchasing or letting desision. You will have your work cut out to comply - and do bear in mind that the clients can also go to gaoll if they get it wrong.

    • 14 October 2013 09:04 AM
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    I totally agree with Dave Evans. If a property is undersold then the vendor loses. The best way to max an offer received is via marketing many agents who see many more buyers. Rightmove isnt the all and end all these days.

    • 14 October 2013 09:01 AM
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    Question:

    Sarah says - "Sadly, in order to conform with this legislation we are no longer allowed to offer a totally free service to people selling their homes"

    How does Foxtons 0% initiative differ? Or this claim just Bull****?

    • 14 October 2013 08:52 AM
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    "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."

    Not if the property is worth £620k - and that's the point. They have no experience of local prices or demand. They dont provide a service.

    In short, Tepilo business model didn't work when free despite Ms Beeny using her C4 persona to vicariously flog the concept and slating all agents in the process.

    Tesco couldn't make this model work. Its a model that goes back years - generate listings, earn money.

    • 14 October 2013 08:49 AM
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    Never throw stones in glass houses..........unless of course you make a patronising programme about how to increase it's value by £100,000 by changing the curtains and toilet roll holder.

    • 14 October 2013 08:39 AM
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    Its what was widely predicted. A 'celebrity' knocking agents and offering something which couldn't be sustained, then charging for just listing.

    Sarah Beeny = A poor show; in more ways than one

    • 14 October 2013 08:30 AM
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    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.
    ........................................

    Why did it need to make money? You said it will be free all the time, if you make a site for free why change to paying? She should make a new show...How to make no money with a website! Then let down your customers.

    Rightmove will strangle the online agents until their fees come inline with high street agents, they already charge them double bubble, this will go to triple soon.

    • 14 October 2013 07:26 AM
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