Purplebricks, EasyProperty, Hatched – online agents are snaffling all the headlines, giving the Martian, arriving from space in January, the idea that traditional estate agencies have been consigned to history.
Purplebricks says it will float on the AIM market for £230 million, easyProperty has now banked funding totaling £39.25 million and Sequence has paid an undisclosed but ‘significant’ sum to acquire Hatched, saving them the trouble of creating their own ‘online’ brand.
Traditional agents need to research the competition and maybe adjust their services to survive – and thrive.
The figures are eye-watering; massive faith in unproved businesses, dramatic headlines about how much sellers will save, gleeful predictions of the imminent death of ‘rip-off agents.’
But is it real? Is that nosy house-hunting Martian going to find defunct estate agencies on every high street? Is he going to find thousands of listings for homes on online agency sites?
CEO of easyProperty, Rob Ellice, says, “This new, very substantial investment is a significant step for easyProperty; the most widely recognised consumer brand in a very fragmented estate agency market.” However, since the orange fanfare blew 15 months ago, there has been a lot of noise, but when you visit their website, they have just (on one day in December 2015) 183 properties across the UK.
Hatched may grow dramatically with Sequence, but it too has a way to go, with around 320 properties listed.
PurpleBricks’ flotation looks likely to be a roaring success, they currently list over 4000 homes for sale, making it the largest in our review of 30 online agencies by quite a stretch, leaving the longer established Tepilo trailing with 1000 listings, a figure that has declined by 30 per cent in recent months.
House Network reported that one London homeowner is ‘set to save £172,000 on the sale of his property, listed at £8 million, by selling through them, but if it doesn’t sell, he will lose his ‘few hundred pounds’ – actually a £599 basic plus extras for such things as calls from a negotiator. Established for 11 years, they report sales of 10,000 homes, about 17 homes per week, but few others give any idea of how many homes they have actually sold. Indeed, listings seem to be their main focus, but surely, if they were completing hundreds of sales, they would boast about it? Maybe not, as they make their money by listing, not sales.
The threat of disruption is shouted out, but people are asking questions about the services offered; the un-returnable upfront payment; the difficulties in covering the entire country from one base.
Any traditional agent who doesn’t research the competition (from any source) has his head in the sand, but good high street agents will adjust their services, their marketing and their fee structures to survive… and thrive.
Future homes in 3D
Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) has announced the creation of new 3D immersive technology which allows potential buyers to take an interactive walk through the 42 acre development site with 360º views – years before completion.
The team used an interactive solution created by Cityscape Digital based on gaming technology to create a first for a large scale London development. The software enables visitors at the marketing suite at Battersea Power Station to discover all that the new town centre will offer including the restored iconic Power Station and new buildings with world class architecture, surrounded by 18 acres of open space.
Georgia Sri, Head of UK Residential Sales, said, “Battersea Power Station’s new fully immersive technology allows both potential residents to fully experience this incredibly exciting project, several years before completion. Battersea is a whole new town centre with new homes, shops, restaurants and offices. This unique experience offers our visitors the ability to step into this new world and imagine themselves really living or working at Battersea.”