House prices: Poundland founder plans to slash cost of selling your home
Multi-millionaire and founder of Poundland, Steve Smith, has entered the online estate agency business to save homeowners a "fortune", but says more people think they can sell their house themselves.
By Anna White, Property correspondent
Sick of high estate agent fees and the tricks of trade, more people in Britain want to sell their own home, according to founder of Poundland, Steve Smith.
The larger-than-life entrepreneur, who started his working life flogging tat on a market stall, is now selling people's most precious commodity, their home, on the internet.
Steve Smith, who offloaded his share of the nationwide chain for £50m in 2002, and now lives in a 13-bedroom mansion in Shropshire, claims the high street estate agent can no longer "pull the wool over our eyes."
In just 12 months his new digital business, Estates Direct, has saved his customers £3m in agent fees, as more people turn their backs on the traditional model.
"I enjoy giving my customers value for money," Smith says. "Those who have sold with us have told me they've bought new kitchens, cars, and paid for holidays with the savings."
"How can an agent charge double in London than in the West Midlands for doing the same job just because property costs more?"
Research, commissioned by Estates Direct, claims nearly 50pc of people polled said they wanted to sell their home themselves.
The top seven reasons that people wanted to take control of the process, were;
I would deliberately hide any faults / issues with the house or area
I know everything there is to know about the property
I could answer any questions about local amenities
Because it matters more to me and my family that the house is sold than it does to an estate agent
I would give viewers the scoop on neighbours
I would be completely honest with them
If I had more than one offer I would chose the person I preferred
Estates Direct, a national franchise with 45 staff, charges £360 to value a property, negotiate with buyers and market it on the property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla.
It is part of a cluster a online disruptors in the property industry, that are substantially undercutting traditional estate agents as they don't have the physical overheads of a branch network.
Smith's competitors include Essex-based eMoov, backed by James Cann, and Purple Bricks, into which fund manager, Neil Woodford, has now invested.