Estate agents join forces to advertise on the Net

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The Independent Online

Home buyers will have access to a quarter of all properties on sale across Britain through ainternet site set up by four of the UK's largest estate agents.

Home buyers will have access to a quarter of all properties on sale across Britain through ainternet site set up by four of the UK's largest estate agents.

The site, Rightmove, is set to be the country's biggest internet estate agent, with details of 120,000 homes online.

Countrywide Assured, which owns Britain's largest network of estate agents, said yesterday it had finalised a deal to bring the former building society turned bank Halifax, as well as Royal & SunAlliance and Connell on board to advertise properties on the site it launched earlier this year.

The move comes as a flurry of internet estate agency sites have been launched. These include Home2Home, a property portal owned by Property Internet, and easier.co.uk, which allows people to buy and sell their homes for free.

The project is the first time high street estate agents have co-operated and is likely to be seen as an attempt to safeguard their traditional market against internet-only competition.

The joint venture has an initial budget of £20m and is backed by a £3m TV and poster advertising campaign. Its management are already discussing a future flotation and aims to double the number of houses it is advertising by the end of the year.

Mr Hunter said: "We are talking to other estate agents and would like to get one or two of the other major ones involved. We expect to be advertising 50 per cent of all properties on sale in the UK by the end of the year."

People will be able to advertise their home on the site for no extra cost but no transactions will take place over the internet. The four estate agencies' 1,700 offices will respond to online enquiries.

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