Private property sales double in year as sellers spurn agents

An increasing number of home owners chose to avoid estate agents and sell their houses privately last year, saving a total of more than £100m in fees.

An increasing number of home owners chose to avoid estate agents and sell their houses privately last year, saving a total of more than £100m in fees.

A study of house sales, published today, shows that private property sales are doubling each year, and now represent more than 5 per cent of the total market. The growth in private sales has been aided by the internet and online services that allow people to advertise their homes for a small fee.

"It seems that we're fast catching up with our European neighbours, where selling privately is considered as normal as using an estate agent," said Mark Desvaux, founder of HouseWeb.com, an online service that helps people buy and sell houses.

More than 1.4 million people buy and sell houses each year in Britain and the independent study, commissioned by HouseWeb.com, estimated that this year, 100,000 home owners will sell privately, saving on average £1,500. By 2002 this is expected to have grown to 280,000, with more than half the sales taking place over the internet.

Hugh Dunsmore-Hardy, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said that the number of estate agents with internet sites was growing daily. He added that private sales were fraught with difficulty. "It is more difficult to get the price right and more difficult to negotiate without the interpersonal skills of an estate agent," he said.

However, Simon Cummins, 38, had no problems selling his house in north Devon privately over the internet and saved more than £5,000 doing so. "We only put two Sundays aside to show people round and had a buyer within three weeks. The cost was just £40," he said.

Family-sized homes are likely to become the most in-demand properties this year. Six per cent of families with children are "very likely" to move in 2000, compared with 4 per cent of the overall population, says the Alliance & Leicester.

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