Property marketing services company Evolve is to become the new owner of online estate agency easyProperty after agreeing to buy it from eProp Services Group, owners of The Guild and Fine & Country.
It is planning to turn the business into a hybrid estate agency rather than the purely online ‘passive intermediary’ model it has followed, it has told The Negotiator.
“Moving home is emotional and sometimes alarming and people do want support from knowledgeable, local human beings and our licencees will be the boots on the ground,” says Evolve CEO David Brierley.
Evolve will complete the purchase at the beginning of August and the deal has been facilitated with the direct financial help of easyJet founder Sir Stelio Haji-Ioannou.
It includes the easyProperty brand and the tech platform and website behind it and draws a line under a difficult few years for the business at eProp, during which it has struggled to achieve profitability.
Asked whether he views the deal as risky move given the current property market and the demise of other online estate agents, Brierley said “We don’t really see there being a difference between online and offline agents – in the end, we all do the same job and the only difference is that we will use modern technology to make the vendor’s life and sale easier.”
He also says he will be spending money on local marketing in support of current and future licencees but will not be conducting any national marketing campaigns, as eProp Services Group did.
Only two weeks ago eProp announced that it was undertaking a strategic review of the online estate agency with a view to either selling it off or closing it down.
Evolve is one of the leading property marketing services in the UK and was set up 12 years ago by CEO David Brierley (pictured, above). The deal will enable the company to offer its photography, floor plans, viewings, EPCs, inventories and other services to the existing easyProperty licensees.
“We are also extremely pleased to have the financial support of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou as a significant shareholder and owner of the easy family of brands, who has a very personal interest in seeing the brand succeed.”
Evolve is to concentrate on helping existing easyProperty licensees grow their businesses and will focus on a ‘local first’ strategy in each area while also finding new agents to take up licences.
“People move house within a pretty small radius of where they live so we want people locally to appreciate how well we can sell their home so we’re creating territories that we will then be licencing to estate agents, not existing firms but good, ambitious branch managers and senior negotiators who feel they’ve hit their glass ceiling and want to start up their own business,” says Brierley.
The first regions to be tackled will be South Wales, North Wales and South Yorkshire where there are already active licensees and a strong local presence.
Read Anthony Codling’s guest post on easyProperty.com.
Agents interested in becoming an easyProperty franchisee should contact Brierley on 02392 200598.