Google and Tesco to rival estate agents

TESCO and Google are poised to offer real estate listings in the UK, radically reshaping the landscape of Britain’s housing market.

The consumer giants’ onslaught on the property market comes after a report from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) suggested that legislation dating back to 1979 should be relaxed to allow more online estate agents into the market, which is dominated by traditional agents.

The changes will open the market to new players.

Supermarket giant Tesco is understood to already be in talks with estate agents to set up an online venture. It is believed the website would allow home owners to list their properties for a flat fee as low as £200.

“We welcome the OFT’s conclusion that legislation can be updated to make it easier for new entrants to service customers and that a ‘recognised and trusted brand’, such as Tesco, entering the market would allow for greater competition between online services and traditional estate agents, to the benefit of the consumer,” said a spokesperson.

Internet group Google is also planning to take advantage of the OFT ruling.

“Users have had the ability to search for real estate listings on Google in the United States and Australia for some time and we’re interested in bringing this service to other countries but we have nothing to announce just yet,” said a spokesman.

The OFT report found the housing market remains dominated by traditional estate agents with weak competition between them on price. It said that innovation in online services would change this. The watchdog estimates that UK homesellers collectively are losing up to £570m a year by failing to negotiate fees and overpaying commission.