Can an online estate agent owned by a celebrity be a worthy competitor to the established old school names?
The TV presenter, property expert and entrepreneur Sarah Beeny launched Tepilo in 2009. It was initially a free “For Sale By Owner” service, but Beeny relaunched the website in October 2013 as a full online-only estate agent.
The beauty of Tepilo is that it does away with the old-fashioned rule that owners of the more expensive properties should be liable to pay a higher fee, even though there is actually no more work involved for the estate agent. Tepilo claims to have redesigned the property selling process around the customer, providing support via telephone and the website.
Can a website replace the bricks and mortar of a high street estate agent, though, and offer the same service we would expect?
At the moment, only 5% of UK house sales are conducted via an online estate agent, but this number is growing – and many experts predict this growth will increase as time goes on. Tepilo is one of the first estate agents of its kind, aiming to provide the customer with efficiencies made available through the online method. The company wants to make the buying and selling of homes as straightforward and painless as possible.
How does the Tepilo process work?
Just like selling your home with a normal high street estate agent, the first step is to have your home valued. Unlike with a traditional estate agent, Tepilo conducts your valuation online and there is no personal visit to the property. So how do they manage to value your home? The valuation is produced by using a series of data such as records of house sales in the area, other estate agent listings and things like EPC certificates, surveyor records and floor plans.
You can upload your property details yourself via the website, or you can do it over the phone with a Tepilo advisor – so there is contact with a real human being despite it being an online business. An agent will also then visit your home to confirm all of the details, and if required they will do things like taking photographs and creating floor plans for the website.
Once all of these details are dealt with, an advert for your property is created and uploaded to the leading property sale portals such as Zoopla and Rightmove.
What about viewings?
When you use the Tepilo system to sell your home, any viewings are organised at your convenience. It is entirely your responsibility to host visits, though, which means you need to be available for them. This is something to consider if you work full time or have other commitments that may mean organising viewings is difficult. That said, they will sometimes host viewings on your behalf for an additional fee, for example, if you live abroad.
After each viewing of your property, Tepilo will gather feedback from the potential buyer and relay this to you. If they make an offer, Tepilo will vet them before helping with offer negotiation. Tepilo advisors are on hand throughout this process to help answer any questions and provide support where needed.
How else does Tepilo help?
Everyone who has ever bought or sold a house knows that a property chain is easily the most frustrating part of the process. This may be where Tepilo really comes into its own though. They will manage the chain for you and keep in touch with all of the relevant solicitors and estate agents. They will keep you in the loop and aim to make sure your experience of selling your home is as seamless and pain-free as possible.
What about pricing and sales options?
At the time of writing, Tepilo offers three different sales packages, and all of these have an option to either pay now or pay later. Prices are inclusive of VAT.
All packages include advertising on Zoopla, Rightmove and PrimeLocation as well as six months’ marketing on the Tepilo website. They also include a professional home verification visit, account management, sales progression, mortgage advice and a “for sale” board featuring Sarah Beeny as standard.
For vendors who already have floor plans and photography, there is the Essential plan for £645.
The Classic plan at £895 includes professional photography and a floor plan.
Finally, the Premium plan costs £1295 and includes premium listings on Zoopla and Rightmove, with your property being a “featured property” on Rightmove for one week. Your property will also be featured in the weekly buyer email sent to their subscribers and will be featured on their social media channels.
Pros of using Tepilo
The main benefit of using Tepilo is their 24-hour service; you can contact them at any time for help or support which is a major advantage they have over their traditional competitors.
Another major pro of using Tepilo is that they will negotiate on your behalf. This means you can have a professional doing the hard work for you without worrying about being talked down, and the entire process is depersonalised.
Cons of using Tepilo
One of the major drawbacks of using Tepilo is that they all but insist on conveyancing, upselling their own conveyancing service – they charge £360 to opt-out of this service.
Some people have also found problems with the valuation process being conducted entirely online. If your property has benefits that make it stand out from those in the same area, this won’t necessarily be reflected in their valuation.