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Should I axe my Estate Agent and go it alone?

29th October 2013 Simon Holland

This is the question increasingly on many peoples’ minds, as it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve a sale on your property. Yet millions of UK home-sellers leave it to the so called ‘experts’, the estate agents, when the fact is that no-one knows your home better than you!

In fact, who better to sell your property than you?

I’d like to remind you of a show the BBC produced in 2009 called ‘Axe the Agent?’ which followed homeowners who had decided to ditch their estate agents and try to sell their homes privately.

This show caused quite a stir and ruffled some feathers within the estate agency community. Many lobbied the BBC ‘not’ to produce the show as it may ‘put at risk the livelihood of over 125,000 UK estate agents’.

Participants in the show were part of a new breed of home-seller, prepared to take the ‘for sale by owner’ approach more common in the US, but not so much heard of here in the UK. Until now.

In the UK, we have traditionally used the services of estate agents, individuals who know their local towns and villages and who offer a personalised service, in exchange for between 1-3% of the achieved sale price.

Nowadays, individuals successfully manage several online accounts such as facebook, twitter and ebay which makes the whole concept of creating your own online property profile all the more appealing, and more importantly, achievable.

Generally speaking, private home-sellers hope to make savings on the commission fees charged by high street estate agents.

‘For sale by owner’ as an industry got off to a slow start many years ago, when internet property sites were just getting going.

Many of these early trailblazers fell by the wayside, and many morphed into fixed fee online estate agents, some of whom are still going today.

The major property portals of course, do not allow private property listings as their clients are all estate agents, so they have a vested interest in locking you, the trend-setting self starter, out of their membership club.

So, I’d like to introduce My Own Estate, my latest business venture and soon to be the UK’s leading ‘for sale by owner’ website. Our aim is to offer you an affordable alternative, that when combined with social networking, interesting content and lifestyle driven photography, will help you achieve that all important private sale, saving you the price of a holiday along the way!

Many members of the British public are still unaware that they can conduct the marketing, the viewings and the negotiations of their own home sales themselves. The rules of the game have changed and the internet has changed the landscape for ever!

The fact remains that although many tens of thousands of people are employed within estate agency in the UK, there is no formal ‘barrier to entry’ and literally anybody can ‘set up shop’ and begin trading as an estate agent, even you! So why not give it a go, from the comfort of your own home?

High street and fixed fee online estate agents will no doubt continue to provide value to their customers, but ‘for sale by owner’ transactions can be successfully completed if the home-seller has the ability to learn a few new skills, which of course is where sites like My Own Estate come in!

In the US, this is seen as adding competition into the industry, and in my opinion, will make estate agents work that bit harder on behalf of their clients.

The OFT is currently conducting a study and early indications are that they fully support the growth of this industry. Many more ‘Internet Property Publishing’ sites will come to the market giving the UK consumer more choice and offering better services as the sector matures.

I believe there will come a day when private sales will account for a significant slice of annual property completions and that can only be good for the UK property market and the wider economy in general.

All I am suggesting is a level playing field where home-sellers can have a real alternative to the high street agents, who many can simply no longer afford to employ.

Why not join in the discussion today, get one of these boards up outside your house, and pave the way for what I believe is an ‘idea whose time has come!’