Virtual estate agent launches in Leeds during lockdown
A property investor who had a heart attack that left him unable to work for months, has launched a virtual estate agency for post-lockdown homebuyers and sellers.
Lee Farrell launched Leeds-based Eazy Agent with an ex-colleague, Stuart Busuttil, during lockdown.
He said that following his recovery from the heart attack last December, he had decided he wanted to be his own boss. The pair joined forces to set up a new estate agency and over the next three months, created their business remotely.
Their main focus, according to Mr Farrell, was to keep things easy and affordable for people who were buying and selling homes.
“People have been programmed to think that selling your house should cost you thousands of pounds. We wanted to make it affordable for everybody,” he said.
The business partners launched three products. The first was a pay as you go service, where the firm markets the property, including pictures and a floorplan, on the major portals for a basic price of £249 plus legal fees. “It’s a very basic package, which can become more expensive the more you add to it,” he said. “But at its crux it’s the simplest and cheapest way you will ever sell a house.”
The company also offers pay now and pay later services. The pay now service, according to Mr Farrell, is a new concept for the UK. He said it covers everything from legal fees to a removal van and, if you have a dog, even a dog sitter on moving day, for £1,749.
Since launching eight weeks ago, the company has sold six out of eight residential properties, and rented two properties: one commercial and one residential.
Last week it let out a home within nine hours of taking it on. It also secured 12 viewings for a house sale - the first within two hours of it going on the market.
“We’re really proactive in what we do,” Mr Farrell said. “Me and Stuart are both salesmen. We’re not sitting around waiting for calls. We believe things can be done differently and better.”
Setting up a business during lockdown was a strange experience. “We couldn’t meet up so everything was done over the phone via Skype,” he said.
The pair learned new skills to complete tasks they would have usually outsourced, including Facebook marketing. “Google and YouTube became our gurus,” he said.
The property market has had a busy few weeks since it was released from lockdown. Estate agents and lenders reported an immediate flurry of activity, boosted by the chancellor’s announcement of a stamp duty holiday.
However, experts believe that the property market could slow down later in the year if companies continue to make people redundant. “This is the peak time to be selling your property and in my mind you’ve got eight-to-12 weeks to do it in to get the price you want,” Mr Farrell said.
Meanwhile, he preparing for a downturn in the market by launching a free helpline and a free e-book about people’s rights and responsibilities if their house is about to be repossessed.
“Unfortunately I think that’s going to be a popular side of our business going forward,” he added. “I think it’s going to become a whole different market in the next few months.”