A small online agency which in six months of trading has secured around 140 sales says it’s on course to be the first in the digital sector to be a fully profitable operation.
Stafford-based Imovehome says its model and modest marketing approach means the average price per listing is £84, a small fraction of that for many other firms.
Imovehome is run by Amy Dixon, a former High Street agent for 20 years who started the online agency - although she prefers to call it a digital agency - early this year. So far investment has been around £1.2m and the firm is nearing completion of an additional funding round.
It charges sellers an upfront basic £249 which pays for the company checking and verifying property details and then listing the home on what it calls “the big three property sites; Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location.”
Other charges include an EPC for £75, floor plan £55, copywriter for property details at £45, professional photographs at £95, a virtual tour at £125, a For Sale board at £45 and an agent to handle viewings charged at £35 per hour.
For the basic cost, all calls and enquiries are handled by the agency and it arranges viewings. Its website says “we help you negotiate any offers and see you through to completion.”
A key characteristic is that it offers a valuation tool for customers to set the asking price on their own property - and Dixon insists most sellers are sensible and don’t attempt to over-value their homes.
“Customers are sensible and highly motivated. Everyone these days will have sold something on eBay and have tried asking too much and have found it didn’t sell, so they’re sensible when it comes to their home” she has told Estate Agent Today.
“I don’t see very much price loading amongst those who value their own homes, because around 95 per cent of homes are similar to others so it’s easy to compare. I saw a lot more price loading amongst agents on the High Street” Dixon adds.
The company has significant staffing - 25 employees plus around 40 other outsourced people, many to operate a 24 hour call centre.
Dixon says she also has a vast list of some 2,000 people across the country who can offer the add-on services - photography, accompanied viewings and the like - to any client whether they’re in Scotland or southern England.
The Imovehome model relies on referral fees and Dixon wants to promote the one-stop-shop concept further by saying that those who use her company’s preferred lending, legal and other services may in future be able to complete a purchase in as little as three or four weeks in total - depending, of course, on others in the chain.
Next month the company is expanding from sales into lettings and maintains that the business model it currently has will go on to make it the industry’s first truly scaleable and profitable online agency.
“We haven’t thrown the money around on TV advertising like Purplebricks and we haven’t jumped into the party like Emoov and employed everyone we could until someone got things right” insists Dixon.
And her goal for the next two years? “In about six months we’ve gone from about 50 listings to 300 so if we continue that level of growth, I’ll be very very pleased.”
You can see the Imovehome website here.