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Direct marketing approach from Tesco Estate Agency business isold.com

by admin

Having sold a house recently it was interesting to see the kind of direct marketing that a For Sale sign attracts – having erected both a private For Sale sign and one from The Best Estate Agent in Reading.

Having displayed a mobile number on the Private Board, the first approach was by text message:

We would like to make you a FREE cash offer for your property.  If you are interested please visit (website)

And there was me expecting to pay for offers from people who’d never been inside the house!

Most of the Estate Agents who valued the property but that I didn’t use wrote often to remind me that they were still there, should I need their assistance.  A good bunch in general and I could have selected any one of 3 that I liked (see my previous article on how to choose the best estate agent) so I didn’t mind at all hearing from them.

The approach that intrigued me the most was a postcard from ‘isold.com’, the ‘Online Estate Agency’ (my words), set up as a partnership between Spicerhaart and Tesco this spring.

isold.com estate agents postcard direct marketing

As you can see the card was posted and addressed to’The Homeowner’ and printed and signed with a handwriting font to give the personal touch.

This week, the house having been under offer for the past three, I found another letter on the mat, this time in an envelope but still addressed to the homeowner.

isold are using direct marketing to win business

Actually this is quite a strong proposition from spicerhaart, and the approach gives us some insight into isold’s intentions.  I’ve said for a while that I believe what I term ‘online estate agency’ will be the biggest growth area in Estate Agency and will take more business from ‘traditional’ high street agencies than the For Sale by Owner model offered by websites such as Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo.  Not that the for Sale by Owner model is flawed, just that many people, in my experience, are not ready to fully ‘go it alone’ even if they question the traditional method.

The winning proposition that Online Estate Agency offers is the low fees, due to the lack of High Street office, but with the comfort of having a professional Valuer/ Negotiator to value the house, draw up floor plans and support you through the process.  That and the ability to put your advert on the Estate Agent only portals like Rightmove and Primelocation – which do not accept listings from individuals or private property sales websites.

Looking at the isold.com website they have launched in only three UK cities, Reading, Bristol and York.  Since the announcement in spring 2010 the business has received little media coverage however and most articles refer to Tesco’s last attempt at entering the property market (in 2007) which ended when Agents and Portals refused to list their adverts with the Supermarket and the business was challenged by the OFT on whether they had become an Estate Agent.

Consumer reactions to the latest offering  (such as those posted under this York Press article) vary from a bit of estate agent bashing and hopes for reduced selling fees to concerns over Tesco’s apparant monopoly over everything.

The original Tesco proposition was sold to Spicerhaart in 2007, who now seem to be running the business (isold.com is registered at the spicerhaart HQ in Colchester) and despite the prominent Tesco branding on direct marketing and the isold.com website I challenge you to find the isold page on Tesco.com without using google.

So this does seem to be a softly softly approach this time around, perhaps looking to build franchises in areas that are void of a Spicerhaart office. One assumes that the Tesco involvement is mainly the use of the brand and direct marketing to Clubcard members.  But we’ll see…

What do you think?  Leave your comments below…

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23 Responses to “Direct marketing approach from Tesco Estate Agency business isold.com”

  1. Mike J says:

    I think a point you may have missed is that private sellers can use sites like epilo alongside an agents marketing and if they find a buyer before the agent does, no commission fee’s will be due to the agent, the property ombudsman has recently said in print, that agents have to prove they had a hand in sourcing a buyer in order to justify fee’s, the OFT have said something similar, So far this year Tepilo has sold alomost 2000 homes, and with the recession biting, perhaps no commission private selling is gaining a bigger market share.

  2. Ben Harris says:

    Thanks for posting these on here James – It’s really interesting to see what approach iSold are taking and I can see how it might seem like a franchise because of the personal approach

    Great blog too

    Ben

  3. Neil Singer says:

    Tesco’s ambition to become an “online estate agency” may seem a strong proposition, but it offers very little that’s new. They seem to be using the same traditional methods in a digital environment, instead of looking at how they could genuinely move with the times and revolutionise how people buy and sell property online.

    I’ve created a service that does just that. It’s called Click to Purchase and you can find out more about it at http://www.clicktopurchase.com (click the link on my name). I’d be happy to talk to you about it. You can contact me via email or on Twitter under the username clicktopurchase.

  4. Neil is right. There’s not much that’s new here except for the upfront concept and the cheaper fees.
    Businesses like this are not particularly out there on their own however. At eMoov.co.uk we do the same as iSOLD but actually for an even lower fee.
    Online offerings will soon sit alongside High Street agencies in just the same way as travel. There’s room for both approaches but let’s not be under the illusion that iSOLD is ‘special’. Their letters to sellers are what we used to know as TOUTING and we do just the same at eMoov every week.

  5. googler says:

    Why is this ‘Marketing Letter’, supposedly sent by iSold to someone listed with another agent at present, addressed to iSold’s office address?

    Follow the link “isold direct marketing letter” and we appear to be looking at a scan of iSold’s draft letter…..

  6. admin says:

    Hi Mike J -

    I totally agree and this is what I did – marketing privately alongside an estate agent. I interestingly more enquiries came through Gumtree rather than FSBO sites. I didn’t know Teplio had sold 2000 homes – where did you find that statistic? I’d be really interested to read the source.

    Thanks for your comments Ben.

    Neil & Russell – I agree that the Tesco proposition is not entirely new – but I think this article helps us understand how market dynamics are changing. Isold is different because its not an outsider/ new media company like creating an online proposition to edge into the estate agency market, its an established estate agency providing an online proposition, thius either hedging their bets or demonstrating by their actions that they (contrary to what most other Aents say publicly) believe online agency is the way things are going. No, ‘touting’ via direct mail is not new – but it reveals a marketing strategy that is more conservative than many expected from a big name like Tesco. It would be a different matter if we were here discussing the latest Tesco/ isold Television adverts.

    Googler – I noticed the address thing too – I think its an admin error that they also used my address as their address! You might also have noticed that the email address given is for a different name to the person that signed the letter. The download link took you to a previous scan of the letter before I decided to blank out the personal details of the sender, I’ve now removed it. Hope that clears things up.

  7. Tim Mather says:

    This more smells of Spicers more than Tescos.
    I know the Tesco name is associated (probably because Spicers’ bought it from Tesco last time round)with isold, but do we actually know what their involvement actually is ?

  8. Ric says:

    Interesting that the letter copied about is actually something that Trading Standards would be interested in – no mention of potential dual fee liability. One would have expected a higher degree of compliance.

  9. simon jones says:

    Will it work, well everyone one loves a new adventure, but once that cools will there still be interest, I think not. Since the advent of the internet various companies have tried 100% internet marketing, most have failed. Most agents are internet based anyway. We live in an aging population most of which do not use the internet. They charge £1000.00 which on some properties doesnt really make much of a saving. How do they qualify leads, vendors do all the viewings themselves of which i am sure they will be quite happy when the forth viewer doesnt turn up and they are late for a doctors appointment. Do they know who they are letting through the door. Everyone has tried to take on rightmove and failed, i cant see this going much further in this market place. Will they Franchise it, possibly but there wont be much to franchise. 1/2 percent.com used to do well in the late 90s internet based now they have vanished and they charged exactly what it says on the tin.

  10. webdesign says:

    I`ve read couple of articles here and could say it was really interesting, thanks for sharing that.

  11. James Hall says:

    With regards to Simons comments, a copule of points I would like to raise:
    1. If most of the population dont use the internet, how come Rightmove are the UK’s no1 source of buyer leads? They also quote somewhere on their site that over 80% of all leads are from the internet.
    2. I-sold state on their site that they verify tenants against fraud datatbases of somekind. How is this different from an agent? Surely most agents take name, address, phone number? How does anybody knowq there are real (apart from the number which could be a PAYG)
    3. I recently put my house on the market and the agent who agreed a £10,000 fee called upon the first viewing to see if I could do it myself! I didn’t have an issue, but I questioned the fee and their stance on what I was paying for.

    In general I totally disagree. Most agents offer pretty much a like for like service. I think on-line agents will grow their market share and consumers (especially the younger generation) will most certainly make their choices using the internet, and fee’s will have some influence to their choices. I mean, most of the younger generation spend most of their spare time on social networking sites.

  12. A clever concept this is but will they do this kind of marketing when they have alot more stock? i think not

  13. Andrew Mowan says:

    thanks for the post, very useful.

  14. Interesting post. They have done well to agree a contract with Tesco. I wonder how this will affect the existing spicerhaart group offices.

  15. Thomas Bryce says:

    There is no need for anyone to worry about this joint venture. In the short term it is unlikely to generate sufficient profit for either party.
    Tesco have had and still have an opportunity to add millions of pounds to their annual income,However I believe their strategy is wrong and their present efforts will fail to pose any major threat to other estate agents.

    Thomas Bryce

  16. Estate Agents Essex says:

    Thats right….an online estate agent like eMove Uk is much cheaper than a high street agent and offers extensive online coverage on Rightmove. The best of both worlds?

  17. Turtle homes says:

    As an online estate agent that has was established in 2009, we are currently receiving a record number of enquiries.

  18. Yeah I belive that online enquiries are well up in 2011 already

  19. cbletting says:

    Letting has not really gone online yet either but this may well happen as well in the very near future.

  20. Haggis says:

    How are they actually doing does anyone know. Good or bad??

  21. Probably not as good as they had hope.

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