easyProperty is ditching its deferred payment options and will no longer offer consumer credit agreements as of today.
Instead it will charge an upfront £295 listing fee – but the bulk of its earnings will come from a £595 ‘reward’ payment on the sale of the property. If the property does not sell, customers will pay no more than the initial £295.
Adam Day, head of operations at easyProperty, told EYE: “It has never sat easily with me that we should charge whether a property sells or not.
“We are, after all, agents, and our job is to sell properties.
“A preliminary marketing fee is fair, but why should consumers have to pay us if the property doesn’t sell or they take it off the market?
“We are estate agents, and our job is to sell not merely list.”
Day also took a swipe at other online agents, saying he doubted if they were really agents at all, and that they had “become anything but transparent, with consumer credit agreements and hidden tie-ins”.
He said that easyProperty will not be tying in its customers to using other services – “unlike other online estate agents”.
The deferred payment options, which easyProperty termed “0% finance”, were dropped this morning.
easyProperty had been offering deferred payment via its Standard option, priced at £825, and with its Premium package at £1,500.
With both, customers had the choice of paying the full sum upfront or paying later – with the full sum being due regardless of whether the property sold or not.
Both these options have now been canned.
From now, customers have a completely new package. They will pay an initial marketing fee of £295. Then, and only when the property sells, will a further fee of £595 be due.
The new amount of £890 is significantly less than its previous Premium package, but £65 more than its old Standard package.
The price also undercuts Purplebricks – and of course many high street firms.
easyProperty has retained its cheapest option, offering vendors the opportunity to use the modern method of auction at £295.
Day said: “This is now in the background. It is in any case only suitable for about 10% of properties.”
This is not the first time that Day has criticised other online firms.
In late 2014, while still at the helm of Hatched, he hit out at “the many new online agents who are devaluing the good work that proper estate agents do when selling someone’s home”.
He said: “There has been a recent infiltration of online estate agents who have started to cheapen estate agency by cutting huge corners – allowing vendors and buyers to talk directly to arrange viewings or even negotiate the offers and their ultimate sale.
“This simply isn’t estate agency – it’s private house sales.”
easyProperty is now part of GPEA, the parent company of the Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country, whose agents have taken out brand licences.
Day founded online agent Hatched which sold to Connells; he left last summer and was instantly snapped up to help chief executive Jon Cooke with the relaunch of easyProperty.
Day said the decision to ‘reboot’ the easyProperty proposition by changing its packages was taken after a series of regional meetings with its licensees.
He said: “As one of the original pioneers of the online estate agency model back in 2006, my belief was that by bringing together the good ethics and morals of traditional agency and combining this with technology and efficiency, this would help to create a model which was transparent and clear to the consumer.
“Over the last two to three years, I have watched with disbelief at how many of our competitors have become anything but transparent.
“Our licensees agree, and believe it’s time to set the record straight.
“I would go as far as to question the validity of other online agents as ‘estate agents’, as they are just listing companies who are interested in nothing more than getting a property on the market because of their fee structure.”
Day revealed that there are now some 380 easyProperty licensed territories across England and Wales, with some territories still available – and available to agents who are not connected to GPEA.
Day said the easyProperty licensees are now on a recruitment drive: “At the moment, we have over 40 agents actively looking for staff across the UK,” he said.