Sarah Beeny Bites Back...

Sarah Beeny’s house sales website is at the centre of a wave – perhaps ‘tsunami’ - of property industry argument.

What is remarkable about this is not Tepilo itself (another private sales website, albeit a particularly clever one with a shrewd marketing campaign) but the highly personal attacks on it from some of the estate agency establishment.

A usually-meek trade magazine got itself into a Property Lather when it called Tepilo “the dread Sarah Beeny’s private sales site”. It accused her of “rants” and attacked a journalist for daring to write about it (why can’t people work out the message/messenger difference?)

This in turn spurred vitriolic comments against journalists on the same publication's website; many have been sent to property editors' inboxes, too.

Now the Property Ladder star is biting back – in this blog.

I've spoken to her at length and she says this of the estate agents' reaction:

• “I’m a little surprised at how childish they are. Instead of saying ‘Sarah Beeny’s thick and should get back in her box’, agents should surely have been explaining how good they are, emphasising their services. But no...”;

• She expresses amazement that months after the site’s launch, the best response some estate agents have produced “has been to heap poo on me”;

• Beeny reiterates that many agents are experts in their areas, especially for highly unusual properties towards the top end of the market – but that it is unfair to ask sellers of less unusual homes to pay thousands in fees;

• She says Tepilo “had to happen sometime” and that “the business model of most estate agencies is based on the hope that the internet will go away” allowing them to continue with old-fashioned, high-cost, High Street offices;

• “Everyone starts their search for a new home online, and estate agents know that. So you can put your own details up on a free website [Tepilo] or you can pay £10,000 to an estate agent to put them up. I can think of plenty of better things to do with 10 grand” she says;

• And some other news. There will soon be a Tepilo magazine (“like Country Life but with lots more properties and ones at all different price ranges”).

So I’ve done it. I’ve written about Tepilo. It seems an appropriate journalistic thing to do, especially in the light of the OFT report. But will everyone understand the message/messenger difference?

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