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Agencies & People

Dexters rumoured to be offloading trio of online-only lettings platforms

The Neg understands that the Howsy, Upad and Urban landlord websites are likely to be sold off two months after a dedicated call centre for the trio was shut down.

Nigel Lewis

Estate agency giant Dexters is seeking to sell its three digital estate agency platforms Howsy, Upad and Urban, an insider has told The Negotiator.

A disposal of the three websites is in contrast with Dexters’ comments in March 2022 when it purchased the overall business, saying its growth strategy included “expanding the group’s digital activities” and praising its innovative “smart tech”.

The three online-only lettings platforms, which were all aimed at landlords, were bought by Dexters for an undisclosed sum after lead business Howsy had agreed to a distressed sale following financial difficulties.

Opportunity

But The Negotiator understands that Dexters is now seeking a purchaser for the trio. It has been offered an opportunity to confirm or deny the claims, but said only ‘no comment’.

The main challenge for platforms like Howsy, Upad and Urban is that they are not rooted in the local but from the outset try to be national.

Therefore, they are compelled to spend significant sums acquiring landlords as clients via digital advertising or referrals, while also operating sizeable and expensive call centres to service them and their tenants.

Shut down

It has emerged that Howsy’s big call centre in Coventry was closed by Dexters two months ago and, one former employee has said, the “entire Howsy, Upad and Urban team was made redundant”.

Calum Brannan, who founded Howsy and oversaw the acquisitions of Urban and Upad, the latter out of insolvency, had moved to Dexters to head up its national rental business but left in February this year.

Between them Howsy, Upad and Urban secured some 23,000 landlords properties to list since 2016 when the oldest, Urban, was established.

December 4, 2023

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