‘Sell your house for just £390 plus VAT’ is the message from Poundland tycoon Steve Smith who has set up a new website aimed at cutting out hefty commission fees.
He has joined forces with Match.com pioneer Darren Richards and entrepreneur Ben Grove to launch EstatesDirect.com – a fixed-fee estate agency.
The 51-year-old says people should be able to sell their homes without having to fork out high charges and has found a way of shaking up traditional chains by replacing commission rates with low-priced fixed costs.
Until now, homeowners have been restricted from directly placing their homes on many of the property websites – instead having to pay charges to agents.
Mr Smith’s basic service will list homes on property websites, including Zoopla and Rightmove, for £195.
It will also employ regional agents to provide knowledge of different areas and meet with customers on a one-to-one basis.
EstatesDirect will then act as an intermediary fielding calls from prospective buyers and setting up viewings. But people will have to show prospective buyers around their homes themselves and put up For Sale signs.
The site does offer extras, including carrying out negotiations on behalf of the owner and brochures, but these cost extra.
If a property is successfully sold the vendor will then pay another £195.
A prestige service, for a flat rate of £1,495 when the property is sold, includes glossy brochures and a choice of For Sale boards.
Mr Smith, from Romsley, between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, said: “For us it is all about giving sellers more control and removing the hefty commission fees associated with the traditional estate agency model. We have ambitions to make EstatesDirect.com the UK’s largest, single branded, personal estate agency network within the next few years.”
The website also aims to reduce the costs of finding tenants for homes.
Mr Smith added: “More than 95 per cent of home movers now search for property online and it is predicted that within a few years, 60-70 per cent of all properties on the market will be listed by online estate agents.
It is now seeking to raise funds to expand itself by taking small sums from the general public in exchange for equity.
Mr Smith sold his Poundland business for nearly £50 million more than a decade ago.
Early this year he set up www.poundshop.com – offering goods including toys, beauty products, stationery, tools, food, drink and home and garden items. Mr Smith has also launched a new website for Wolves fans – wolvesdeals.co.uk