Two local entrepreneurs have set out on an ambitious venture to become one of the countries leading hybrid estate agencies. James Quinn a Liverpool based businessman and landlord along with Lewis Knowles a Wirral based property valuer with nearly a decade’s experience have teamed up to launch Property Lane and we caught up with them to find out a little bit more.
First of all what made you create Property Lane?
We are of the opinion the property market is ever changing and we truly believe what we are doing is going to be the future of how people sell their homes. Once we show people that we can sell properties for just £99 just as well as an agent who charges you thousands of pounds in commission or even the large online based agents who are charging £900-£1,000 upfront, then we believe this is the route the majority of people are going to want to take.
£99 seems incredibly cheap to sell somebody's home? Is there a catch?
No there isn't a catch! Our motivation is not only to create a successful business but also to save people thousands of pounds. Some people say it can't be done! But we truly believe it can and you don't need to pay thousands of pounds in commission to sell your home. Technology has helped people book cheaper holidays & find cheaper quotes for their car insurance so we now thinks its time technology started saving people money on selling their home.
Do you think you can compete with the big online agents we see every day on TV?
Property lane has been created not to compete with the big corporate online guys like purple bricks but to offer customers a low cost alternative. We are looking to combine the best of what the high street give you in terms of local knowledge as well as all the positives of the online/hybrid model which with the software available allows homeowners complete control over the sale of their property. We don’t have millions of pounds to throw at advertising on TV so we need to be good at what we do! If we don’t deliver on our promises to our customers we won’t survive its as simple as that!
Why do you think Merseyside is the right place to launch this?
We've been involved in property predominantly throughout Liverpool & The Wirral for nearly a decade so we believe we really are in touch with the housing market on Merseyside. These big companies advertise ''local property experts'' but in reality these poor guys & girls have driven from home 40 miles away to come and value your property. We both know the area like the back of our hands which we think is hugely important, particularly on The Wirral where there are such a number of niche properties and so many hidden gems!
Why do you think more and more people are turning to online agents?
I think people are realising that you don’t need a swanky high street office now to sell property. I think something like 98% of property that sold in the UK in 2017 was first seen online, so the likes of Rightmove & Zoopla where we advertise are giving us the biggest shop window possible in which to advertise our properties. The amount of money we save by not having offices on the high street is quite astonishing so we are passing that saving onto our customers. It won’t be for everyone we realise some people still like to go into an office, but we’d urge those people to give us a try we think as well as saving money they’ll also find it a much smoother process.
In your opinion do you think the traditional high street agents days are numbered?
I don't necessarily think their days are numbered totally. I think the guys that are good at what they do will survive and maybe others won't! But i do think they'll have to adapt. There's been a stubbornness from the high street to accept the online agents in recent times. But the online agents are here and they are here to stay. People are waking up to the fact that if you have a £500,000 house, you shouldn't be paying £6,000 in commission to sell it. The cost of moving home is expensive we can’t get away from that, stamp duty, legal fees it all mounts up. If people can save a couple of grand on agency fees then we’d really urge them to do so!
So once you’ve taken the photographs and got the property online what’s next? Do the owners do everything themselves?
No not at all! We'll assist them all the way through from dealing with prospective viewers to negotiating offers and then the stressful bit of working with the solicitors through to completion. We realise a lot of people want to be more hands on so each vendor will have their own ''Homeowner Portal'' where they can track viewings, see feedback from past viewings, alter their price and see where the sale is up to. We've tried to cater for everybody and give the homeowner all the tools and information that we have at our disposal! Ultimately the Vendor can be as involved as they’d like to be. If they want to handle things themselves great! if they’d rather us take care of it for them that's okay too!
How big do you think Property Lane can become?
We have huge ambitions to become one of the largest names in UK estate agency but at the same time we don't want to become a faceless corporate organisation. We are big believers in local people selling local properties so as we grow into other areas we’ll certainly look to recruit experts in that marketplace. The majority of our competitors are based in London so we think it’d be brilliant if we could rival them with a business based here up North! We are seen as the poor relation up here so we think its about time someone shook them up!
It seems you're really committed to keeping things within the local area which is great!
Yes absolutely we are going to be doing a lot of our advertising in local publications like this, we are currently in talks regarding sponsoring a junior football team based here on The Wirral & also looking to link up and support some local charities and hopefully help vulnerable people throughout Merseyside. We may be slightly biased both being born and bred on Merseyside but we think this is the greatest city in the world and we want to help support that in any way we can!
And finally, you were telling me you have a bit of a January sale coming up as well?
Shhhhhh!!! don’t ruin it! But yes we’ll be offering 25% off our packages during the whole of January if people pop along to our website www.property-lane.co.uk and instruct us using the code JAN2019 they’ll receive an additional 25% off up until the 31st January.