Agent Online has launched, a hybrid online estate agent which offers a referral service for brokers.
The estate agent gives brokers a portion of the completion fee when their clients sell a property, while it encourages the buyer to use the same broker.
Dominic Toller, its founder and managing director, said his model differs to big corporate estate agents who encourage clients to use their in-house mortgage broker, resulting in brokers losing clients when they move house.
Toller said: “We believe we are pioneers, the first of our kind, shaking things up in the industry and turning the original model on its head by trying to put the broker at the forefront of the property sales process.
“Consumers like and trust their mortgage broker and our vision is to become the preferred choice of estate agent for brokers’ vendor and buy-to-let clients. We aim to establish ourselves as a B2B estate agency firm that competes alongside the large chains and small independents throughout the UK.
“If I try and persuade brokers to refer estate agency services, I am often told they’re already busy selling mortgages, equity release, general insurance, protection.
“But all the broker needs to do is mention they can assist a client looking to sell or let a property. We do the rest. As part of the proposition we provide broker partners with everything they need to pass the message on to their clients.”
Brokers pay £19.95 for the Agent Online’s service each month and can then refer customers to the estate agent service.
Agent Online creates a website, leaflets, email and business cards for registered brokers.
When the broker’s client sells their property using Agent Online, the estate agent posts it on Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation.com and encourages everyone viewing that property to use the broker.
When the property is sold that broker receives at least £500 from the completion fee.
Hundreds of brokers have already signed up, including Payam Azadi, director of Niche Advice.
He added: “Having spoken to Dominic about the proposition I believe it’s promising and there’s an opportunity for brokers to partner up with this and other services.
“The estate agent market is evolving and changing dramatically. Agent Online has relatively low risk and minimal set up costs to our business and we think this is a great venture to get involved with.”
The typical completion fee paid by Agent Online’s clients is £795, of which the broker receives £500. But brokers can also set their own fee.
Toller said ‘high street’ estate agents can charge £5,000 to £10,000 in commission, so brokers using Agent Online can set their completion fee and still ensure the client is receiving a good deal.
In some areas a £3,000 completion fee might still represent a saving for the client. The broker would earn the initial £500 referral fee plus 75% of anything over £795, i.e. 75% of £2,205. So, in this case, with a client completion fee of £3,000, the broker would receive a total of £2,153.75.
Toller’s aim is to sign up 1,000 broker partners to use the service within the next six to 12 months. Following a recent marketing campaign to brokers he believes this is very achievable.
In terms of buy-to-let Toller said that most letting agents charge a monthly 10% fee while Agent Online charges £69 per month, but similarly to selling a home brokers can set their own fee and earn the difference. For example, brokers charging clients £120 a month would earn £51 per property, per month.
Toller said: “We’re truly a hybrid estate agent and the only one to let brokers set their own fee and earn on the back of it. And we’re finally getting the news out there.
“Many brokers have clients that are portfolio landlords and we’re giving our intermediary partners the tools to receive a regular income from all the properties their clients own. I believe we are the first company to offer brokers a revenue stream from client properties under management.”