YOUR Money: Death of the SALES MAN; How Internet Is Cutting out the Middleman

Article excerpt

Byline: By ROSANNA SPERO

WHY pay a middleman when you don't have to? That's the view of growing numbers of us who buy direct rather than pay an agent.

Over the past few years, hundreds of websites have sprung up selling houses, holidays and insurance direct without the need for an agent. So what does the future hold for these salesmen and women and are we right to ditch them?

HOMES

FOR years estate agents have had us over a barrel. To sell your home you needed an agent to tell you its value and to market it for you.

Not any more. Websites such as mypropertyforsale.co.uk, littlehousecompany.co.uk and houseweb.com offer to sell your home for a flat fee of as little a pounds 47.

You should expect to upgrade and pay around pounds 130 for a decent level of coverage, but it still beats the thousands of pounds charged by an estate agent.

These sites let you change details and photos at any time and can list your home on portals such as Fish4, Hot Property and 4 Homes. Direct selling currently accounts for about eight per cent of all properties sold in the UK.

Trevor Gillham, managing director of mypropertyforsale, says: "We sold 40 properties in the past three weeks.

"Half the people who list with us hate estate agents and object to paying their commission. The rest are also with an agent and hope to speed up the sale by listing with us as well."

Someone selling an average-price pounds 200,000 home would save pounds 3,870 if they sold direct rather than paying typical agents fees of two per cent. If your house is worth pounds 400,000 then this soars to a staggering pounds 7,870.

And you no longer need an agent to value your property. You can check what houses in your area have sold for by logging on to sites like thisishouseprices.co.uk, nethouseprices.com and mouseprice.com.

Chris Wood, vice chairman of the National Association of Estate Agents, claims that a good agent adds value to the sales process. "They will get a better price than the seller can do on their own because they get more people through the door, are able to negotiate a better price, keep information flowing and all parties moving forward."

MIRROR VERDICT: Save thousands by doing it yourself or at least try that route first.

TRAVEL

ABOUT 44 million holidays are taken by Britons every year. But huge numbers now book their flights and hotels themselves, often over the internet, sending the number of traditional package holidays plummeting. Instead we're going for long haul holidays and tailor-made trips. Buying online accounts for an estimated 50-60 per cent of holidays, but with travel agents owning 4,500 travel websites many bookings are just the online version of the high street travel agent. …