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9th February 2000


The tide of fortune is turning against Britain's estate agency industry, new analysis reveals, as a record number of homeowners opted to go it alone and sell privately last year, saving an estimated 103 million in fees.

New research from, which created the online private sales market when it launched in 1996, reveals that private property sales are now nearly doubling each year, aided largely by the Internet.

The research from, which helps users through the maze of buying, selling and moving house with its unique blend of content and property listings, confirms that Britons are following the lead of homeowners in Germany, where 50 per cent of sales are private.

Said founder and managing director Mark Desvaux: "Currently, private sales account for only five per cent of the market in the UK, but it seems that we're fast catching up with our European neighbours, where selling privately is considered as normal as using an estate agent."

Regionally, the HouseWeb data suggests that would-be sellers in the Midlands are the most likely to give estate agents a wide berth, making up 19 per cent of the site's users.

The service - which costs a flat fee of 40 with no commission - is also popular with homeowners in London, with 11 per cent of its for sale properties in the capital. Nearly one in 10 (seven per cent) of the houses or flats on offer is a holiday home abroad.

Properties advertised for sale on range from a one-bedroom flat in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, for 13,000 to a 1.5m 8-bedroomed guesthouse in Country Leitrim in the Republic of Ireland. More exotic dream homes include a country mansion in Scotland and a croft house on the Isle of Skye.

With a typical asking price of 175,000, offers sellers a saving of up to 3,500 based on the national average of a two per cent estate agent's commission. Said Desvaux, who conceived the idea for after his own frustrating experiences at the hands of estate agents as a first-time buyer: "The UK property industry has been set in its way for too long and until now, it was pretty much a case of hobson's choice for homeowners wanting to sell - use an estate agent.

"There is clearly a growing appetite for selling privately in the UK, and with a typical estate agent commission of two per cent on the average property price of 75,000, multiplied by the 1.4m sales per year, a potential saving of 2.1 billion is just a click away for the British public."

For further information, please contact:

Mark Desvaux

Tel: 0845 003 0720



Notes to Editor:

About (, the property portal, is the UK's premier web destination for anyone buying and selling, renting or exchanging property.

Launched in May 1996,'s site enables homeowners to advertise their property in the Internet using the latest Web technology. The site also includes comprehensive guides covering everything from first mortgages to finding a dream home. Whether a first-time buyer or housing professional, is an indispensable resource packed with properties, information, news, advice, discussion forums, web directories and financial services. receives thousands of visitors every week and has won numerous awards and accolades, including 'Top Property Site' from Internet World. It is also featured in the Lycos and BBC Online Web guides. is owned by HouseWeb Ltd, a privately held company based in Cambridge, UK.

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