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News: Supermarket to sell homes

From last Valentines Day you could have bought your wedding dress in a supermarket. Now the same store is setting up an estate agency business so you can also buy your home while doing the weekly trolley run.

Properties for sale will be displayed on touch-screen terminals inside Asda stores, which will also allow potential purchasers to register their interest. Staff will then visit to record details of properties or phone to arrange viewings.

The system will be trialled in 10 Asda stores in the Sunderland area during the summer but could be rolled-out across the UK by the end of the year.

Homes @ Supermarkets, as it will initially be called, will be run from a central hub office based in Hexham, Northumberland, where it will employ estate agents, surveyors, conveyancers and call-centre staff to manage all sales. All contact will be electronic, by e-mail or telephone.

The business will offer vendors free Home Information Packs which include a survey, search and land registry information. The packs will become compulsory next year.

Asda said vendors could enjoy total savings of up to £2,000 compared to using high street estate agencies.

However, National Association of Estate Agents chief executive Peter Bolton King told Press reporters that high street chains had tried and failed with similar ventures before.

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