Why a Private Seller Could Be Your New Best Friend…

It is a well-known fact within the industry that the relationship between private sellers and estate agents has been rather frosty to say the least… For many traditional estate agents, private house sales represented a critical threat to their businesses and undermined the core foundations of the estate agency value proposition. But attitudes towards alternative methods to market are starting to soften, even among the most hardened traditionalist agents.

Until relatively recently, there was only one way to buy or sell a home in the UK as far as most consumers were concerned – pop down to your local High Street and walk into your local estate agent’s office. In fact, traditional estate agents had such a strong hold over the market that many homeowners thought it was illegal to sell their home without getting an agent on-board! However, with the rise of online estate agents and peer-to-peer listing platforms, For Sale By Owner or private house sales have started to edge their way into the market.

One of the main factors that has held back the tide of private sales in the UK has been the dominance of the 2 big agent-only property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla. With estate agents paying hefty monthly subscription fees to advertise their stock on the portals, the possibility of allowing direct access to these platforms for individual homeowners was an absolute no-go.

However, the rise of inclusive marketplaces in other industries has pushed forward the tide of change in the property world, and modern home-hunters increasingly want to see ALL their options in one place – including properties available direct from owners. Integrated property platforms like TheHouseShop are among the first to combine private and agency listings under one roof, and work with both agents and homeowners to sell and let property online.

Bringing together these 2 warring factions wasn’t easy at first, but co-founder of TheHouseShop, Nick Marr, explains how he won over agents and convinced them why listing alongside private sellers was worth it:

“When we first launched TheHouseShop, the idea of listing private seller’s properties alongside estate agents was still pretty controversial, and we definitely had some concerns about how agents would react. We decided right away that we wanted to make sure that our offering to estate agents was just as valuable as our offering to individual homeowners.”

“We started by making it free to advertise on the site for everyone – both agents and private sellers. But we wanted to do more for our agents and explore ways to help them win new instructions and reach an audience that they otherwise might not reach.”

“Our experience showed that almost 70% of private sellers would need the help of a professional agent at some point during the process – and this provided a massive opportunity for us to generate leads for our agents by connecting them with sellers who needed a helping hand. Many of our private sellers wanted an expert to give them reassurance about the pricing of their property, and most agents are happy to offer a free professional valuation if it gives them a chance to get their foot in the door.”

“The fact that we have an alternative audience to Rightmove and Zoopla, and that we offer a free-to-use service has managed to win over a lot of agents who seemed hesitant at first. We’ve found that we are particularly popular among small and medium sized agents who maybe can’t afford the subscription costs for the big portals each month.”

Marr argues that estate agents have more to gain than they have to lose from working alongside private sellers, and as TheHouseShop continues to expand its offering to agents, he hopes they will become a go-to platform for agents looking to grow their business.

Marr also emphasised that TheHouseShop represents a move away from the exclusive “members-only” approach that has been common in the industry until now. He added:

“People tend to try and pigeon-hole us and compare us to classified advertising sites or portals or online estate agents – but the reality is that our model is something totally new and unique. By bringing together all of the players involved in the market and combining all the services they would need in one place, we’ve created a marketplace that is more like Amazon than Rightmove. As far as we’re concerned, everyone is welcome at TheHouseShop.”

At the end of the day, the estate agency game is changing, and traditional agents will need to take advantage of anything and everything at their disposal to ensure that they remain top dog. Turning the “threat” from private sellers into an opportunity is just one more way that you can stay ahead of the game.

Create your FREE agent account on TheHouseShop to start offering professional valuations to a new audience of potential clients and list your properties for free.

Find out more here

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