The chief executive of Savills says “the sale of homes will move more and more online” - justifying the recent investment by the company in a hybrid agency.
Last month Jeremy Helsby announced an unspecified investment was being made by Savills - through its proprietary arm, known as Grosvenor Hill Ventures - into YOPA, a hybrid agency operating chiefly online. In total, YOPA secured around £16m in its latest fund-raising round, which includes the Savills investment.
At the time Helsby said the move was "enabling us to take an interest in the high volume segment of the market, comprising over one million transactions annually, to which Savills has had little exposure to date."
He continued: “We have been consistently impressed by YOPA, whose technological edge, dedication to service, clarity and focus on the client at the heart of the sales process all resonate strongly with our core values and the way we do business.”
Now Helsby, in an interview with the Australian Financial Review and reproduced in part over the weekend on Property Portal Watch, says of the YOPA deal: "Whether it works, I don't know. What I do know is that the sale of homes will move more and more online.”
Asked about YOPA’s business model, which revolves around a fixed fee of £780 to vendors to market their home, Helsby says in the AFR: “If you have a £150,000 home that is pretty attractive. People don’t like paying estate agents and they can sell their homes much, much more cheaply online. I don’t think the pure online will work but the hybrid [model] will.”
YOPA also gives Savills access to the volume market for the first time, with the agency having made its name in the residential sector on high-value homes which in recent years have been affected by high levels of stamp duty, the volatility of the pound and, most recently, the Brexit decision.