Yup, Housesimple.com (the well-known online estate agents) offer letting services, but regrettably, I’d rather shoot myself in the ass with a poison dart than use or recommend their letting services.
I can accept the fact that their base package is comparatively more expensive than many of their rivals, but what I can’t accept is how painfully ‘unsimple’ it is to determine how much their services actually cost!
I really, really, really didn’t want to have to write this blog post, especially while it’s the season to be jolly, but for the greater good of all UK based landlords that are prone to being sucked in by sketchy deals, I feel like I didn’t have any other choice. Plus, I really kinda wanted to.
Before I dive into the meat and boobs of this blog post, I just want to clarify that this isn’t a review; I’ve never used Housesimple so I can’t comment on the level of service they provide. Their service could be impeccable for all I know, and I hope it is. But that still doesn’t change the reality of how frustrating I find their woeful lack of transparency, which has ultimately left me in a state of disbelief and condemnation.
Many of you will be familiar with Housesimple as one of the better known ‘online estate agents’, along with PurpleBricks, Yopa, eMoov (who are currently sinking like a lead poo after facing financial turmoil) etc.
It was only recently that I discovered that Housesimple are meddling with lettings. Not surprising, however. Good for them.
To be completely transparent with you, I made the discovery because I caught wind of the fact that they run a pretty handsome affiliate programme (i.e. If I refer you to use their letting service, I get a kick-back), so naturally, I was doing my due diligence to ensure their offering earns my seal of approval before I start flogging it.
Unfortunately – and what should be abundantly clear at this point – the results of my ‘Quality Control Assessment’ meant that I can’t personally recommend their letting services for neither love nor money to any other living soul (or deceased, for that matter) without willingly reserving a place in the eternal flames of hell.
Normally I’d let things like this slide, because poor user-experience and unattractive price-tags isn’t particularly unusual, but I was so gob-smacked by my experience on Housesimple’s website that I just had to throw a tantrum in the middle of the sweets isle.
On a sidenote, I just want to address another point; there have been times when
super mean people have accused me of selling out by sharing offers based on only financial incentives. I have NEVER done that. On a daily basis I get several companies trying to encourage me to distribute their garbage, and I’d be a lot richer if I entertained even half of those opportunities. But I don’t; I’m extremely selective and I only recommend services that I do or would use myself. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can leverage my blog’s popularity to access the best and most exclusive deals for you, so that’s what I always strive for. Of course, some deals/products will be suitable for you, others won’t.
Anyways, back to my dismay with Housesimple…
Reason 1) Comparatively expensive base package!
The base price for their one and only lettings package is a whooping £299, which includes:
- Deposit registration with TDS
- Your own account manager
- Ads on Rightmove/Zoopla
- Ready book of tenants
- Professional negotiation
- ‘To Let’ board
I think there are much better deals to be had. For example, I’d rather pay £49 for OpenRent’s “Rent now” package, which seems like absolute peanuts in comparison:
|Letting Agent||Duration||Includes / Notes||Price|
Includes / Notes|
Advertising + Rent Now package
|Price £49Inc VAT||Visit Website|
Yup, please note, that includes a Rent collection service (an optional upgrade at no extra cost) and Tenant referencing.
There are plenty of other sound and cheaper options offered by other online letting agents, too. Just check out my list of the best online letting agents, which *ahem* Housesimple don’t feature on.
But fair play to Housesimple, they throw in a super cool ‘To Let’ board. I remember when they were useful pre-internet *smirk*
To be honest, I’m not even mad about their price-tag. Housesimple is a big brand; they’ve probably spent millions on marketing so they need to recoup. I get it.
Either way, the point is they ain’t the most cost-effective solution. Not by a long shot.
Reason 2) What does Housesimple’s letting services ACTUALLY cost? Good question (although it shouldn’t be)!
Housesimple’s choice to be cloudy about their pricing is what really crawled up my ass and died!
It’s easy to establish that the base price for their lettings package is £299, because it’s loud and clear on their website (as it should be), and like almost all other agents, they offer useful ‘optional upgrades’, which many landlords will require on top of the base:
But what’s not so cool, and what is beyond the realms of my understanding, is that the prices for those “Optional services” aren’t listed, not even on the so-called “Our lettings fees” page (note the plural “fees”, when they only just show ONE price for the base package). Seriously, NOT LISTED! Here, check it out yourself.
So how do landlords actually know how much it’s going to cost?
I dunno *Shrugs shoulders*
So how much is going to cost for the £299 package with an EPC?
I DON’T KNOW!!! I DON’T KNOW!!! Get off my back, Jesus!
To get to the bottom of what is quite possibly the greatest mystery of mankind since discovering the squishy green growth under my left armpit, I decided to hit up Housesimple on Twitter in search of an explanation, because my hope was that I was being the daft one!
Elloooooooooo? ANYONE THERE?
Over a week later and I’m still waiting for a response (which may or may not be the reason for this blog posts existence). I gave them a chance, the Lord knows I did! Perhaps the ugly truth is too embarrassing to confront.
To be honest, I’m not sure I even understood the responses I did receive, probably because they dun make sense. Are they saying that they don’t openly list their prices because they offer too many extra services?
And, ‘The shittest excuse of the year’ award goes to…!
So, okay. I’ll play ball. Let’s actually assume I believe that tub of anal-jizz for a moment. Bu buuu buuut, that doesn’t explain why they don’t – at the very least – disclose the prices of the optional extras that they do have listed on the front-end of their website (the 8 shown in the screenshot above).
But hey, at least they’ll happily ‘Direct Message’ me their complete price list on Twitter (because that’s more sensible and normal than making the prices easily available on the website in the first place). So if anyone wants to know how much their service will cost you, just ask them on Twitter, okay? State of the art service.
At this point I was consumed by curiosity; I wanted to know at what stage I’d be shown the prices for all the optional extras. At some stage in their ‘sales funnel’ they HAVE to show me the prices for the extras! I clicked on the ‘Create an ad’ button to see if it led to the pot of gold, while deeply hoping I would have no success, because that would be tragic!
In my mind I was thinking, “surely only a sadistic dip-shit would make you ‘Create an ad’, which comprises of registering your personal & property’s details, before disclosing the full cost of the available services…”
Low and behold, that was the key!!
They exchange your personal details for a price list…
Hey, Housesimple, here’s an ingenious idea for you: how about you stop holding your fucking price list hostage!!
Somehow – the Lord only knows how – they miraculously managed to find enough space to host their prices once you ‘Create an ad’ (by handing over your personal details!). Incredible.
I’m going to give Housesimple the benefit of doubt; I’m going to assume there’s a super smart psychological explanation for why their prices aren’t on the front-end of the website; something to do with marketing strategies or some crap. Maybe there’s a proven success rate after making some poor schmuck work so hard to gain clarity on the pricing, that they simply surrender due to exhaustion. “MAKE IT STOP, JUST TAKE MY MONEY. TAKE IT!!”
But the reality is, I don’t give a flying shit about marketing psychology if it encourages fees to be hidden behind locked doors, and I’m truly scared that someone green-lighted, what I believe to be, dog-turd user-experience.
Who/what actually thought it was OKAY not to be upfront about their prices?
Reason 3) Undisclosed pricing!
One of the most pivotal steps of creating a tenancy is to use a written tenancy agreement to define the T&C’s. EVERY landlord should use one.
However, oddly enough, while ‘Tenancy agreement’ is listed as an “Optional service”, the cost for one isn’t listed in the [hidden] itemised price list *slaps forehead*
So, not only have they guarded their prices behind a registration process, but they have also failed to disclose the cost of one of the most vital components of creating a tenancy. Maybe they don’t even charge for arranging tenancy agreements, but the point is, THEY DON’T MAKE IT CLEAR!
Fuck this shit! *grabs ball and goes home*
What is going on here?
I’m stumped. This is such a ri-donk-ulous situation.
Why would anyone sign up to this service?
The CEO of Housesimple recently shared his thoughts on the demise of eMoov, which I found quite interesting:
It’s very sad to see what’s happened to Emoov. Their problems lay with the proposition, which didn’t give consumers a reason to use them.
HA!! Alright, mate!
At the time of writing this (which will probably be a few days before publishing), Housesimple have 18 rental properties advertised on Rightmove, so clearly the hoops they make you jump through in order to determine how much they’ll actually cost you isn’t too exasperating for everyone. Pretty unbelievable, to be honest.
I’m not so much concerned for landlords that have experience with online agents, because side-stepping services that lack transparency should be a breeze. However, it’s the inexperienced landlords that I fear for, because they’re more likely to blindly follow the breadcrumbs left by powerful brands.
I hope the irony of how unsimple Housesimple have made the process of accessing their fees isn’t lost on anyone else.
Bottom line, I shouldn’t need to hand over any personal details, I shouldn’t need to send a Tweet, I shouldn’t need to read small-print, and I shouldn’t need to bend-over in order to access a price list. Unacceptable.
The lack of transparency, particularly with fees, is exactly what has plagued this industry for decades. I can’t condone or endorse such services.
Hold on a minute, let me just open a restaurant without the prices on the menu! I’ll tell you the prices after you’ve ordered, cool?
Huh? What do you mean that’s unreasonable? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, peasant. If you want clearly listed prices, there’s a McDonalds around the corner, asshole!
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all have an awesome one!
Thanks for all your support in 2018, it’s massively appreciated xoxo
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.