New ventures from a range of digital entrepreneurs are ramping up the challenge to their traditional counterparts in the property market.
Recent launches include Estates Direct, the brainchild of Poundland's Steve Smith and Darren Richards from DatingDirect.com who claims to have taken the dating industry from the High Street to online. Its basic no-frills package comes in at £195, although another £195 is payable if the house sells and there are numerous add-on elements which can also raise the final figure.
Others include Plentific which offers integrated financial calculators, property listings (powered by Zoopla) and a step-by-step home buying guide. Users can also choose to ‘Find a Pro’ where they can request advice from Plentific search consultants, as well as a panel of mortgage brokers, solicitors, surveyors and architects. A third, Rent a Letting, has a unique angle - £7.35 of every letting agent's monthly advertising fee is donated to charity and agents are also encouraged to pledge to its list of charities when advertising with them.
Earlier this month, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's announced the forthcoming launch, probably this summer, of easyProperty. It claims the site will "shake up the UK property market to make buying, selling, renting and letting simple, quick and cost effective".
George Spencer, CEO and Founder of Rentify said: "There is a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that 2014 will be the year that this sector is transformed. Since we launched in March 2012, Rentify has managed a total of £306m worth of rental property, and helped over 500,000 landlords and tenants let, manage, and rent properties across the country, demonstrating that there is a significant demand for this type of service in the UK. The accessible, intuitive, and cost-effective model of online property companies, whether sales or letting, is surging ahead of the traditional high street estate agent set-up. Ours is a rapidly emerging sector with a strong potential for growth.
"In the same way that internet banking and online news sites have transformed their sectors, we cater to consumers increasingly used to accessing services and information instantly. We aim to bring transparency to a market which badly needs it."