Online estate agencies can represent amazing value when compared to their traditional high street counterparts, but some online companies offer better savings than others. While many agencies charge flat rate fees of around £500-£900, one of the market’s newest contenders, Doorsteps, will market your property for just £99.
The company has been trading for less than a year (at the time of writing) and already boasts some impressive accolades. Despite its short lifespan, it’s claims to be already the 18th largest estate agency in the UK and says its average sale time is just 20 days compared to the UK average of 57. And what makes its success all the more extraordinary is that the company is run by 19-year-old founder Akshay Ruparelia, who launched it while he was studying for his A-levels.
With so many online agencies vying for the attention of sellers, Doorsteps’ unique selling point is obviously its low prices – but just how can it afford to charge such low prices?
According to the company, “The real question is, ‘why are other agents so expensive?’ Doorsteps serves the country from just one main office which deals with all the enquiries. We avoid the hefty leases and shopfront costs. So, no commission, low overheads and a high quality of service.”
Ruparelia says he’s taken a lot of inspiration from Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. “Mr O’Leary began by selling flights for just £4.99 and his point was that if you can offer customers something at a price they just can’t believe and you deliver what you say you will, you hook people in and your business will work.
“So I took that same logic and applied it to estate agency. Research showed some online estate agencies were still charging homeowners between £800 and £1,000. I knew I could do it for a fraction of that.”
Ruparelia, who still lives at home with his parents and pays himself just £1,000 a month despite his company’s growth, says he wants to “rip up the old-style way” properties are sold in this country: “Why give an estate agent a small fortune just for putting photos of your house on the internet?”
The company operates from a Harrow-based office, with 12 employees. Ruparelia also employs a network of local agents – self-employed mothers around the country – to support customers on a local level during the sales process.
“Mums know a thing or two, don’t they? And quite rightly people trust mums. Every mum who works for me will be honest and tell the truth. That’s so important because for the vast majority of people, selling their home is the biggest financial transaction of their lives.”
Indeed, selling a property is a big financial transaction, but Akshay’s model ensures there are very few costs associated with the process. For £99 sellers get a dedicated account manager, 24/7 viewings arrangement and sales support. For a slightly higher fee of £199 – still markedly lower than many other online estate agency charges – sellers also get professional pictures, floorplans, a written description and a face-to-face valuation.
It’s no surprise that Doorsteps is benefiting from a lot of press and industry attention at the moment, and with a recent round of major investment the company is set to go from strength to strength. But there are no guarantees it’ll keep its price this low forever, so if you want to sell your property for this bargain price, you had better act fast.