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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Busy buyers dial a home
Selling a flat through picture messaging
Picture messages allows buyers to view properties
Mobile phones could soon revolutionise homebuying for busy workers.

A new service sends details and photos to passers-by and prospective buyers from numbers printed on the For Sale sign outside properties.

Text4Sale's designers say their system gives a virtual tour to time-strapped house hunters at any time of day or night.

After a successful Cardiff trial, it is now poised to be rolled out on placards around the UK.

Text4Sale is aimed at pressurised wage slaves who may want information on properties on the market outside office hours.

For Sale signs
Text message numbers are posted on For Sale signs

The potential buyer texts the estate agent with an unique, five-digit code pasted on the home's For Sale sign.

The buyer then receives vital statistics and photos of rooms in return.

The service also arranges a phone conversation with the agent for the following morning to begin negotiations.

Operator ThinkSMS says it is a boon for the busy - and frees estate agents to concentrate on sure-fire purchase calls.

Drive-by selling

"Someone driving past a property need only send a text message to receive all the relevant details immediately," managing director Darren Rose told BBC News Online.

"Competition is particularly strong in the domestic market at the moment and this service enables agents to provide a faster and more effective service for clients."

Cardiff Bay estate agent and project triallist Michael Graham Young has welcomed Text4Sale as a great additional marketing medium.

David Norton
David Norton is selling his flat using picture messaging

David Norton used picture messaging when he was selling his flat in Cardiff Bay.

He said: "I would always want to have a look at a properties in the flesh.

"But I'd certainly be able to narrow them down to what I was definitely interested in by seeing if I liked the look of them (on picture messages)."

Now ThinkSMS is looking to push the service around the country - starting in London, Birmingham and Scotland - and is talking to the Halifax about a tie-up.

"It is a secret we no longer need to keep," Mr Rose added.

"Agents can keep ahead of the market by communicating with potential buyers anytime, anywhere.

"We are marketing this aggressively in the UK and, later, in Australia, Italy and Spain."

BBC Wales' Abigail Neal
"The only problem is not many of us have picture text messaging"

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