Once upon a time, the mere mention of DIY, conjured up simple pictures of manageable house renovation projects, and regular trips to the local hardware store. But maybe, the real future of ‘home DIY’ is in the selling and buying of properties via the world wide web.
The entrepreneur, property developer and host of popular UK television show ‘Property Ladder’, Sarah Beeny, has launched an online service, aimed at giving the client complete control of the buying and selling process. At no cost to the customer, whatsoever. And in these days of depleted house prices, and difficult selling conditions, who doesn’t want to save a few thousand pounds, or dollars?
Beeny, who launched tepilo. com in summer 2009, has set out to provide a service to those who wish to buy, sell or rent a property without the assistance of an agent. And while this is not the first website to offer sell-your-own-home enthusiasts the chance to dispense with professional services, it is certainly unusual in that it provides the online listing, plus some very useful tips and advice, completely commission free. And, with the added allure that it is the brainchild of a well-known, and respected, celebrity with considerable expertise in the housing market means that it certainly has the potential to ruffle a few feathers in the British real estate industry.
But even the affable Sarah Beeny, is quick to concede that some people will always feel more comfortable engaging the services of an agent, rather than dealing with viewings, negotiations and such, themselves. This site has been designed to appeal to those, who feel that they can manage the non-legal, albeit time-consuming, elements of steering a home sale, purchase or let.
If UK agents are concerned about tepilo, then the next big threat, currently raising its head, has the capacity to cause some serious ructions. The retail behemoth that is Tesco, is expected to launch a property website which will allow owners to advertise their properties for sale, for a low, flat fee. Having already been forced to drop a previous online property site launched in 2007, due to legislation that governs British real estate, Tesco is now expecting a softening of the legislation by the Office of Fair Trading, that will allow it go ahead. And, if rumors are to be believed, Google UK will shortly be following suit with a property search service, too.
So, what does this spell for the future of real estate, in this increasingly technological age? As Sarah Beeny herself attests, there will still be the need for professional agents, for a variety of reasons. Not everybody has the confidence, or ability, to market their own home. And there will always be people who are quite happy to pay an expert when it comes to to handling the pricing of a property, or the negotiations, when it comes to a sale. Although relatively uncommon in the UK, ‘For Sale By Owner’, is an established, if relatively small, sector of US real estate market. Whether these potential threats to the industry, on the other side of the pond, will ultimately have any repercussions here, remains to be seen.