Tesco expands into estate agency business with online service

Tesco has taken the first tentative steps into the estate agency market. The supermarket giant will offer customers the chance to employ estate agents Spicerhaart for £999 to help them to sell their homes.

The service, iSold.com, will be available through Tesco's website.

After the initial roll-out in Bristol, iSold.com will soon be offering its service in Reading, York, Portsmouth, Crawley, Southampton, London, Kent, Manchester and Birmingham and Leeds. Users will also be able to buy Home Information Packs, conveyancing services, surveys and arrange their mortgages.

Sellers register for a free online valuation before a valuer visits to confirm the price, take photos, measure the rooms and create property details. Customers will pay £299 upfront for marketing services and the additional £700 when iSold.com has successfully sold the property.

The chief executive of iSold, Paul Smith, describes the venture as a halfway house between an online and a standard estate agency. "We are able to offer lower estate agency costs using an online platform but with the added bonus of an 'on the ground' team of local valuers," he said.

The launch comes as the Halifax announced that UK house prices fell by 1.5 per cent last month.

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