Don't bother getting a middleman to deal with your middleman

Property Stress Relief is a company that has come up with a new way of squeezing cash out of house-sellers. For a 1% fee, they will mediate between you and your estate agent, acting as middlemen to the middlemen.

Given the current state of the housing market you could be forgiven for thinking that it couldn't get any worse for anyone trying to sell a home. But it might at least if you live in London and are foolish enough to employ a new company hoping to cash in on tough times.

Property Stress Relief offers to make the process of selling your property quicker and easier by acting as a middleman between you and your estate agent who's a middleman between you and your buyer. So that's a middleman between you and your middleman. Perhaps unsurprisingly the company's founders are former Foxton's employees, the estate agent that knows how to wring every last penny out of property.

So what do Property Stress Relief do? If you employ them from the moment you want to sell your home they will "advise on what should be done to the property (basic repairs and so on), interview prospective agents and manage them on behalf of the client," says Lucy Denyer in The Sunday Times. After that they will guide you through the process to completion. If you ask for help after your property has been on the market for a while they promise to "shake things up". And what will this cost? A stonking 1% of the sale price (assuming the home sells).

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Directors Tim Jackson and Eli Robinson boast of having more than ten years' combined experience of the London property market, though as the last big crash was in the early 1990s, it's hard to see how that will help them in the current environment. Their latest service is spun out from another firm the pair founded in March this year, That company offers to buy homes from desperate sellers for 80%-90% of market value within 48 hours. Robinson and Jackson assured The Sunday Times that they would never pass on business from Property Stress Relief to Securesales as it would be "unethical".

So what do estate agents make of Property Stress Relief? "On the basis that people moan about agents' fees in the first place, why would they pay an additional sum? Do you really want to pay 1% for someone to organise you to be organised?" says Grant Alexson of Knight Frank. We can't argue with that.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings accounts and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping, among many other titles both online and offline.