easyProperty has unveiled details of its relaunch, declaring itself to be the UK’s second largest hybrid estate agency - second only to Purplebricks.
Following the agency’s £60m merger with GPEA, the parent company of The Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country, easyProperty now has more than 368 ‘local property professionals’ operating throughout England and Wales.
easyProperty says its reach is now second only to PurpleBricks which has 540 Local Property Experts according to its latest year-end statement. It cites YOPA’s website as suggesting it has 74 local representatives, with eMoov’s website listing 10.
easyProperty sales packages for the online service range from £295 to £1,500, and at its relaunch event in London today easyProperty also announced that it would be the UK’s first hybrid agency to provide online auction sales packages, priced from £295.
Meanwhile there will also be lettings packages launching in late October. These are likely to cost from £95 to £450 with property management options in addition.
The agency says that ‘sales progression’ – which will be handled by a 'back office contact centre' - will be one of the main features to set it apart from its competitors.
Marketing during the autumn will include TV and social media advertising. TV advertising begins over the next week - with the first ad going out during Sunday's episode of Victoria on ITV1.
easyProperty chief executive Jon Cooke is keen to stress that the agency's new marketing campaign will include no 'competitor-bashing'. He says there'll be no sliding scales of agents' fees, for example.
“On June 7 we announced the easyProperty merger so it’s three months to the day that we have transformed this business. Through independent research we commissioned, UK home-sellers told us they value an in-person valuation from a local property professional as well as the convenience and accessibility of online products” explains Cooke.
“We also know home-sellers have varying preferences in terms of how much they want to be involved in the transactional process. For example, some want to host viewings themselves and others prefer agents to do it for them” he adds.
“However, what was essential - the big ‘must have’ - is communication. Our online 24/7 dashboard, alerts, and tech-enabled systems allow us to create dialogue between vendor, buyer, agent and all other necessary parties” explains Cooke, who emphasises that the full attention of the service now is on the consumer and how demand is changing.
At the time of the merger at the start of the summer, easyProperty announced its business model would change from ‘business-to-consumer’ to ‘business-to-business-to-consumer’, providing what it called “proptech solutions” to agents through licences.
These cost £500 per branch per month, with each covering a territory of about 20,000 properties. As of today, some 333 licences have been sold.
All licencees are signed up to a one-year rolling contract, with the focus on being 'transparent'. easyProperty's revenue will be generated via licence fees as well as transactional fees from instructions.
All initial 333 licence holders are being referred to as 'founder members' and have been given shares in easyProperty.
easyProperty local property professionals will be required to be a member of The Property Ombudsman scheme and meet Anti-Money Laundering regulations. However, as LPPs will be hired via estate agents rather than independently, the online agency points out that these measures should already be taken care of.
Meanwhile, training of local property professionals has been carried out by Adam Day, formerly of Hatched, both online and in the classroom.
At the moment, easyProperty has no plans to launch in Scotland or Northern Ireland as it is focusing on delivering in England and Wales.
It says that there are currently also no plans to launch abroad in the vein of Purplebricks. However, thanks to the Europe-wide recognition of the 'easy' brand it is something that could be explored in the future.
Former easyProperty chief executive Rob Ellice will now take up the role of commercial director. When asked if this is to be considered a demotion, Cooke said that eProp Services is now a ‘group of companies’ and so had to take a 'group approach'.
Chief financial officer Iain Manley has previous experience of market capitalisation and listing firms on the stock market and easyProperty is not ruling out a float at some point in the future.
In its presentation to trade journalists this morning the agency said that ultimately “there will be two major players in the budget estate agent market like easyJet and Ryanair” - and it pledged: “We will be one of those two.”