Net gains for homes

Dido Sandler assesses the benefits of selling via the World Wide Web

With the property market firmly on the upturn, it seems, and some houses even going for above the asking price, could it be time for sellers to consider dispensing with the services of an estate agent altogether?

With such strong demand in some areas you could be paying as much as 3 per cent of the selling price for the agent doing little more than picking up the phone to a buyer on the books.

Increasingly, the Internet, as well as aiding the hunt for a property, could offer access to buyers and help you cut out the agents. House sales via the Internet are a small but rapidly growing phenomenon.

Woolwich Property Services - part of the building society - has been running an Internet site for sellers (www.wps-property-seeker.co.uk/) for the past six weeks. So far, only 10 properties have been sold by this route, but Roger Ham, Woolwich marketing communication manager, claims that in five years' time between 15 and 20 per cent of house sales in the UK will be made via the Internet. "Once people get used to selling houses through the Internet, they will ask why they do it any other way," he says.

In the US, an estimated 10 per cent of homes are sold this way. Advocates argue that since publishing privately on the Internet is cheap, sellers can post muchmore detail about the property than would be possible by conventional means. You can put up as many colour photos as you wish, together with the most personalised text, or even video clips. To sell higher-value properties in the US, people are even constructing "virtual houses", where visitors can get the feel of actually touring the property.

One Bristol-based homeowner has put his home for sale on the Internet, priced in dollars, apparently wishing for a specific type of American purchaser (www.wintermute.co.uk/users/pingu/cg-house.htm). The text that accompanies the picture of the house explains how this was the home of the youthful Cary Grant before he went to Hollywood.

Creating your own site will allow you to sell your home with maximum personal style and flair. Free software is available on the Net to help you build a site - it will take you half a day if you know what you're doing. But the difficulty is persuading people to visit your site. You can register your offering with Internet "search engines" such as Yahoo or Alta Vista - which allow searches by particular words - for free. But you cannot always guarantee the correct search criteria will be used for your site. Nor can you be sure that the browsing public will have the patience to look through a mass of sites on the off-chance they might find their dream home with you.

Instead, you could register with an estate agency site - but this will normally mean paying commission. Alternatively, there are sites for classified- type sales.

The Moneyworld UK Personal Finance Directory (www.moneyworld.co.uk/ukpfd) has "hotlinks" - direct connections - to a range of agency and classified sites. Loot, the classifieds newspaper published in separate editions in larger cities across the UK, is also on the Internet (www.lootlink- com). You can list your home for free in the small ads section of the newspaper - call 0171 372 7262 in London - or e-mail the details. (If you do the former the ad gets listed both in the paper and electronically; if the latter, then it appears on the Net only.)

For pounds 59.95 Loot sells a Private Sale package, with a "for sale" board to go outside your property, a sales pack including advice on selling your home, a free legal helpline, and three months of daily advertising with a picture of your home, in the paper and on the Net. The on-line version will soon offer extra services like colour photos and e-mail links for buyers to contact sellers.

Housenet (www.housenet.co.uk) is another service for both private advertisers and estate agents, with a free classified ads section, and a more detailed service with a photo of each property costing pounds 29.95, and pounds 15 for each extra photo. Coverage is mainly in the south of England.

Dido Sandler works for 'Financial Adviser' magazine.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?