A Worcester business that has disrupted the traditional estate agent model is setting its sights on national expansion with demand for its offering continuing to grow.
FreeAgent247.com, which was the brainchild of industry experts Daniel Lewis and Gerard Smith, provides homeowners with a ‘free’ way of selling their homes by reversing the fees so they are paid for by the buyer.
The innovative approach has proved extremely successful in Worcestershire, with the company regularly handling more than 100 different properties, from riverside lodges and city centre apartments to four-bedroom family homes and luxurious country retreats.
Supported from the outset by the knowledge and expertise of local accountants Haines Watts, the firm has defied sector specialists by proving that there is an appetite for a different sales model that has, to date, achieved the asking price on 99% of properties – a key national measure of success for estate agents.
“There were a lot of doubters when we launched FreeAgent247.com, but I think it is safe to say that we have proved the critics wrong,” explained Daniel Lewis, who had previously worked at a leading local estate agent.
“Reversing the fees so that the buyer picks up our charges makes complete sense for the seller. It takes away a big additional cost, whether you are selling a two-bed starter home or a luxury rural property. We are now seeing a steady stream of clients asking us to sell £1 million-plus properties and why not? They could be saving between £15,000 and £30,000 by placing their trust in us.
“Usually in our sector, when you lower the price for the client, they expect the service to suffer. This couldn’t be further from the truth, with a team of experts – covering estate agents, digital marketeers, photographers and video specialists – handpicked to deliver outstanding customer service and, importantly, to use their skills to sell your property.
“We’ve tested the model in Worcestershire, now the emphasis will be on increasing our geographic reach across other parts of the country.”
Haines Watts, which employs 20 people at its office in Worcester city centre, has a strong track record in backing high-growth ‘disruptors’ and has worked with Daniel and Gerard from the very start.
Initially, this was focused on setup support, but this has quickly evolved into expert assistance with compliance, payroll, VAT/tax planning and advisory services around the planned expansion.
Dan Jackson, Associate at Haines Watts, said: “FreeAgent247.com is a great example of how an innovative business can take a new concept and revolutionise an established sector.
“Our team of experts have helped the company with all of the financial issues a new business has to contend with, navigating them through the journey so they can concentrate on the property market.
“The duo now has access to a team of specialists to provide strategic advisory support as they look to take the company and its disruptive model to the rest of the UK.”
Daniel Lewis added: “There is no doubt in my mind that the knowledge and support Haines Watts has provided during every stage of our development has allowed us to hit our objectives quicker and smoother than we could ever have envisaged.
“Trust is really important for us and that’s exactly what we’ve got with Dan Jackson and his team. We know we can lean on them for all manner of financial and planning assistance, leaving us free to do what we do best… sell houses.”
Haines Watts is a top 15 firm of chartered accountants, advising and supporting more than 35,000 owner-managed businesses and SMEs across the UK.
Its expert teams work with companies to understand their business aspirations, giving them access to a host of advisory services that enables owner managers to reach their destination with speed and certainty.
This includes accountancy support, maximising R&D tax credits, raising finance, tax planning, patent box relief, Export VAT planning, strategy advice, talent management and help with succession planning