Housesimple Reveals this Year’s ‘Top Interest’ Areas for House Buyers

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While last year turned out to be a rather tumultuous one for house prices, one thing is already clear in 2012: those with an online focus, including property portals and online estate agents such as Housesimple, are more optimistic on both a personal level and in terms of the overall picture.

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House Simple’s transparent pricing structure and online features give sellers more control over the process, as well as appealing to a much wider audience of potential buyers.

With last year turning out to be a rather tumultuous one for house prices, is there any way to tell what 2012 might hold in store? One thing is clear: those with an online focus – online estate agents, property portals and those involved in private house sales – are more optimistic, on both a personal level and in terms of the overall housing market picture. Online agent Housesimple, for example, has seen business levels increase as more and more sellers realise the benefits and potential savings associated with using the internet to market their home – and then spread the word.

With high-end real estate agent Knight Frank predicting a drop of 5% in the average UK house price (outside of London) but the National Association of Estate Agents, which represents Estate Agents from across the spectrum, saying 2012 will see a ‘gradual recovery’ for the UK property market, Alexander Gosling, Director of Housesimple, explained the reasons behind the difference of opinions.

He said: “We have seen a gradual increase in demand for our services. This is partly because the economy is making people look harder at their finances, but also because ‘overinflated’ high street estate agency fees are still a very ingrained complaint in this country.”

Housesimple, which ranks in the UK’s top 25 estate agents, uses a clearly defined, set price brackets for different levels of service. Guaranteed deliverables, such as a decent set of photographs and an online floorplan, are included in every price bracket. Compared to high street estate agents charging an average commission of 1.5%, savings for sellers can be in the region of £2,000 on a home sale price of £160,780 (the UK average) or as much as £4,100 on a home sale price of £300,000.

Rightmove, the online property portal largely responsible for the boom in online property searches, is also predicting a small (2%) national increase in average house prices. But the company is quick to point out the UK housing market is made up of many fragmented micro-markets that are performing very differently, and it urges buyers and sellers to take time to understand their local market.

Housesimple’s figures back this up, with January’s most popular online searches showing a real range of activity across the UK. The most searched-for location was in Cosham, Portsmouth, but the average value of the properties potential buyers were looking for in this location – £250,000 – was significantly lower than in the second- and third-most searched-for locations, which were both in Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Here, potential buyers were searching for properties up to £499,950 and £695,000 respectively.

Perhaps not surprisingly, seven of the ten most searched-for locations were in London or within easy reach of the capital (Kent and Essex). The remaining areas were in the south west, with Newquay and Cheltenham appearing besides Cosham.

At this early stage it’s not possible to tell whether these figures are indicative of 2012. But what is certain is that sellers are gaining confidence in online services. “We offer a combination of factors that are important to clients,” explained Alex. “Housesimple’s transparent pricing structure and online features, like the guaranteed floorplans, wide-angle photos and optional featured and premium listings, give sellers more control over the process, as well as appealing to a much wider audience of potential buyers. The future of estate agency lies very much within the online business sector.”

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