There are many reasons that people use an online estate agent: convenience, efficiency, a DIY attitude, affordability... but to save on estate agent fees in order to buy a herd of alpacas? In the case of one couple from Yorkshire, yes!

Howard Simpson (50) and his wife Tracy (51) from Hebden Bridge had always dreamed of escaping suburbia, with husband Howard having previously worked on a farm and Tracy, as a true 'animal person', having always loved the idea of having a smallholding of their very own. Whenever the couple discussed what this would consist of, all they knew was that it had to be "animal-friendly", insisting that nothing could "go for the chop".

It was following a visit to St Davids in Pembrokeshire that the couple were inspired to get their very own herd of the typically Peruvian alpacas, falling in love with what they describe as the "big cuddly teddy bears" straight away. Yet the question then arose as to how to make this dream a reality? With somewhat unusual dreams, Howard explains that they wanted to take the non-traditional route to selling their home ahead of buying a farm,

"The cost of selling a large house in the area we live using a high street estate agent was going to be around £6,000 which we felt was a disproportionate cost in relation to what service was offered. We also wanted to have full control over the selling process as a whole to make sure we were indeed maximizing the potential of the property. This is why we chose online estate agent to sell our property."

The original online estate agents, established ten years ago, offer afull estate agency service, backed by five star customer service and professionally qualified staff. Properties are advertised via sites such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation, as with a standard agent, yet with the service being internet-based, it is far cheaper than selling the 'traditional' way.

Howard explains how this savvy move meant that their smallholding dream could finally become a reality,

"I was 50 this year and in one of my birthday cards from my brother in law was a cutting out of the Yorkshire Post indicating 16 Alpacas for sale. We drove down to Carmarthen in South Wales and spoke to the owner Paul who was selling his herd. We bought the boys, 8 of them, which for us was ideal, collected them at the end of June and they have settled in great: Hero, Centurion, Praetorian, Hercules, Forester, Falcon, Emissary, and Bertty (Berttram).

"The cost of the Alpacas was £6,000 and that is just about what we saved from paying a 'normal' estate agent which we think is a much better way to spend our money!"

Having previously used a high street agent, Howard and Tracy are now converts to the online means of property selling, thoroughly recommending Howard says,

"Using an online agent gives you the flexibility to manage all stages yourself. The whole process was very simple and the customer service people were a great help. You can tailor the service to your own competency level and do as much, or as little, as you want.

"I wanted to be in control and show people around to ensure that all the best aspects were shown and this is exactly what we did. Then, during negotiations, I could refer back to the points which I knew the buyers were interested in, in our case the large garden and large reception rooms."

Completing the successful sale of their property and settling into their new home at Apple Tree Farm in Hebden Bridge with their alpaca herd, the couple have now established their new business venture - alpaca trekking.


Taking small groups for walks in the stunning countryside of the South Pennines and Calder Valley, Howard, Tracy and the alpacas have the chance to meet new people, share their love for the friendly creatures and enjoy their new beautiful surroundings, none of which would have been possible if it hadn't been for the money the couple saved selling their property online with