Lancashire's DIY estate agents Habitats on helping put you back in control of buying and selling a home
Habitats isn’t your conventional estate agent.
A for-sale-by-owner business, it aims to streamline matters by putting sellers and buyers in complete control when it comes to property, whilst still offering guidance and ensuring proper compliance.
Essentially, they’re estate agents, just without the actual estate agents.
First dreamt up as a concept three years ago by friends-turned-business-partners Charles, Barry, and Joe, Habitats was launched in April and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Aiming to give customers ultimate control of the buying and selling process, the company is also free, only charging for listings on sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
“It was 2018, I was working at an estate agency in London, and one of my now-business partners was toying with the idea for Habitats,” says Charles Eddlestone, one of the company’s directors. “I was looking for the opportunity to do something new so, over the next two years, we built the platform to create a hub for people looking to buy and sell their home themselves.
“We knew there was a large client base in the UK which wanted to sell their own home; even in the office at the estate agents’, we’d get people coming in asking if they could do everything and just pay us to put the home on Rightmove,” adds Charles, 35. “It’s all about the person themselves: if people feel as if they have the time, the savings speak for themselves.
“Since we launched the service, we’ve had an incredibly positive first six months,” he continues. “We had our first property up within a couple of weeks and that was up for 12 weeks before the owners sold for £14,000 over asking price on top of which they saved £13,000 in fees.
“They did everything on the platform.”
With their platform, Habitats removes any estate agency commissions, allowing people instead to create their own listing with their own photographs and descriptions, to manage viewings, to receive and manage offers online, and to do business with the confidence of knowing that all buyers on the site are required to pass proof-of-funding checks.
“Selling your home is an emotive process, so people can come on to the platform, list their home, maybe buy some professional photos through us, then go live on Rightmove whenever they’re ready,” explains Charles, who lives in Read near Burnley. “You can also take the property down and, say six months later, log back on and list it again - it’s all there waiting for you.
“I’m loving the experience,” he says of the work. “It’s so pleasing that the people using Habitats have become our biggest fans, which is reflected in the positive reviews we’ve had. That’s testament to the fact that there is a desire out there from people to do things for themselves and to how easy the platform is to use.
“There’s a lot of pride in giving people that control.”
With a current total of around 40 homes on their platform, Habitats features real estate up and down the entirety of the country. Boasting a wide and varied spectrum of properties, it features everything from one-bed flats to five-bed detached homes and everything in between. It even has a £1.7m Lancastrian property on offer.
“We’ve shown that the concept works,” says Charles. “Not everyone wants to sell their home themselves because some people are time-poor and want to give it to a local estate agent. That’s fine, but there’s a market for a service-based estate agent delivering a service we’re proud of. It’s about the people having that option.
“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built,” he adds. “I sold my house in London, moved back in with my parents at 35, and have put everything I have into setting this business up. It’s so satisfying when you see what we’ve created and how pleased people are with the company.
“That’s our little champagne moment because we’ve proved that it works.”