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Graham Awards


Exclusive: Independent agents' group links with soon-to-launch portal

The fast-growing trade group for independent estate agents has launched a partnership with the soon-to-launch Homesearch portal.

Of the various free-to-list portals currently operating or on the starting blocks, Homesearch - scheduled to launch in under six weeks time - is the one the appears to have the highest expectations of challenging the existing Big Three.

Some 6,800 agency branches have already indicated that they support the concept and from the end of this month these will be able to become paying subscribers if they choose. 


It’s been reported that around 500 branches have already committed to do so; each of the first 2,500 branches to subscribe will be offered 1,500 prepaid direct mail letters to potential customers. 

Now the Federation of Independent Agents, founded by former agent and respected property consultant Graham Lock, says his trade body has entered into “a key long-term strategic partnership with Homesearch that will run until the end of 2024.” 

The FIA already has a deal whereby its members agents have subsidised access to the Homesearch Pro product, which offers property data. 

“The agency landscape is rapidly changing so it’s important that our member agents have access to the latest products and services to enable them to compete at the highest level. Our subsidised solution for Homesearch means they receive the full benefit of the product with long term pricing security” says Lock, launching the new deal.

He says the creators of Homesearch - Sam Hunter and Giles Ellwood - “understand the power of data and the importance of listening to what agents want, not what they think they want.”

Hunter, chief operating officer at Homesearch, says: “Graham and his members have played a massive role in the development of Pro and they were the first agents to see the full Network [portal] offering. Their feedback directly help to shape the product, as it will be when released. We’re grateful to continue our relationship long-term.”

As of last evening Homesearch’s portal, set to launch on July 1, had 6,818 agents who had expressed an interest in its service, which it says will offer “unlimited listings, no contracts” and with all leads generated going straight to the agent at no cost.

The FIA, now a year old, aims to give its members the scale of financial leverage with suppliers enjoyed previously just by large-scale corporates.

  • Murray Lee

    First Ive heard of it!!!

    Perhaps Mr Lock would like to reach out to me?

    Intrigued at the success claimed as sadly Charlie Wrights CELIA never reached this success down to apathy at the time
    Maybe this is the right time?

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    Really how many more coming.
    It's a joke
    None of the new ones will reach profitabilty

  • GIles Ellwood

    Hi Angus,

    Our industry is at times quite rich with unfulfilled promises, so I do see where you are coming from.

    Which is we would love an opportunity to show you what Homesearch is all about, it will hopefully demonstrate how serious we are about supporting Estate Agents and making a long term viable company that doesn't need to overcharge its customers.

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    I have seen much on what the benefit is for the poor old consumer.
    Don't be an otm and found on bile and angst

  • Andrew Dickinson

    I recommend Murray that you look into it. Completely different to CEILA, which I think did not succeed due to the apathy of agents. We have seen enormous benefits and success in the last year...

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    It sounds like a distant and poor relation to the current portals available to the public and will need a shed load of funding to get anywhere near any of the big 3. Would be better off working with one of the existing portals OTM would be the better choice as they need a good valuation tool.

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    Frankly, there are some amazing new innovation with a number of the new portals. All of which are bringing new things to both the agent and consumer. Homesearch, OpenBrix, PropertyHeads, OneDome, Rummage etc are all chatting together, coming together and without doubt want to break the duopoly. If you like the status quo, then enjoy it and please carry on! If however, like the vast and growing majority of agents that are supporting all these far cheaper options, you recognise the need to change then you have the opportunity! So... to the ever-doubters, support the new innovation or enjoy being a puppet!

  • GIles Ellwood

    To be quite clear, we are not aiming or trying to be a portal.

    Those days are done and the industry need more collaboration, not fragmentation.

    We certainly will NOT be spending tens of millions of pounds of Investor or Agent money to try and 'get anywhere near any of the big 3' as you say HITMAN. This would a surefire way to guarantee extortionate Agent fees in the future. Not what you guys want and not what we have set out to do.

    6,903 Estate Agents (as of two mins ago) have registered their interest in Homesearch and will be feeding their instructions to the public site when it goes live on the 1st July (As it says at the top of our site; Unlimited listings, no contracts and all leads/links generated go straight to the Agents at no cost)

    Our mission to provide a safe and central area to display listings along side information on tens of millions of off market homes on a site that consumers can enjoy ad free in an intuitive search experience.

    Angus, Hitman, lets make positive change happen together. Its easier than you think.

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    Hi Giles,

    Sorry, but none of what you’re saying makes sense:

    1. You don’t want to be a portal, yet you will be listing all the properties from all your agents - so you will be a portal

    It doesn’t matter what you want it or don’t want it to be, the public will think you’re a portal if you want them coming to your website to find property...

    2. If you don’t want to be a portal and are not planning on challenging the big 3, then you will be an additional £395 a month cost to estate agents - not replacing the existing money spent on portals like RM and ZP and OTM

    3. The services you offer for the Pro and Network package - the Network package has no benefits listed btw - are nothing new or innovative, existing competitors are plenty

    You're basically offering estate agents a shared service centre offering where you do back-office leg work for lots of agents instead of them doing it themselves

    4. You’re not a charity nor a social enterprise, you’re a proper business whose aim is profit and yet you speak as though you will be somehow charitable with fees and not be extortionate in the future. But, you have to grow and this means growing revenue and profit and most of revenue growth has to come from estate agents spending more with you

    Or if you could not grow if you business remains in the founder’s hands, but then what’s the exit?

    Alternatively, if you get any sort of funding, hungry shareholders will demand growth and you will have to obey

    Lastly, either declare yourself a challenger portal with added benefits to give EAs a proper incentive to fund a new potential monster or be clearer about your offering

    If you’re not a new portal then EAs should steer well clear less they add £400 a month of indispensable costs to their books in a couple of years


    1. You don’t want to be a portal, yet you will be listing all the properties from all your agents - so you will be a portal

    A portal is something that centres on itself, for itself. Its a BIG data system that pools the data it gets from its customers to provide opportunity for itself.

    The new stuff that is coming trough is #PSP (property search platform) that allow multiple platforms to co-exist and collaborate. If agents in the Lake District want a #local portal they can have one. If the agents in South Wales want one they can have one.

    #PSPs are small data systems that operate at a fraction of the cost and work as a system that bridges the gap between CRM and the turn of the century concept of an aggregating portal


    Congratulations on your first post here, what took you so long and where did you get such an original name from?


    @Property Pundit

    Picking on me because it’s my first post only exposes your nervousness at my post

    You could’ve used your PR skills to at least try spin my criticism into something positive

    But just attacking me because it’s my first post in order to defend your company/client/friend/investment (whatever your relation is) doesn’t go down too well

    Very Trumpian and not very professional


    @Robert May

    What you’re saying makes sense (sort of) but it’s not the future. In fact what you’re proposing is a precursor to centralised property portals - it will just lead to that

    The public mostly just want a place to find property listed for sale, anything extra are trimmings

    Homesearch is trying to become a property portal

    I’m actually a fan of their current offering of being a shared services centre to handle back office legwork for EAs

    But not a fan of them becoming a portal and claiming they aren’t

  • GIles Ellwood

    Hi 'John Smith',

    Thank you for sharing your assumptions.

    It looks like this is your first post on Eat, so I'm grateful you felt sufficiently motivated to come on to pose these questions.

    Would you be keen to share the name of your Agency so that i can personally call you and run you through everything we do so you have a first hand idea of what Homesearch is and why it's different.




    Hi Giles,

    Appreciate the offer and thanks for pointing out this is my first post.

    It is odd, however, that you never point out the first-posters when they’re praising you - not implying anything untoward here...

    It would be nice of you to address my points above in this forum please


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    I've been following the Homesearch journey closely, and as a founder of a tech company myself, I think it's fascinating and exciting. Getting consumer activity is not as difficult or as expensive as it used to be a decade ago, so I would suggest more agents jump on board! Keep up the good work Giles!

    GIles Ellwood


    Really appreciate that, thank you.

    I wish you all the best with your venture too!


    Is this your first post Jonathan?

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    There are 3 main portals all fighting to be number one currently RM holding the spot but for how much longer nobody knows, I'd like to see OTM at number one simply because is majority agent owned and the lowest cost, Homesearch have a great valuation tool and the new offerings sound good but not yet tried and tested, agents won't hang around they look for instant returns as in the case with OTM too many left before it really started to show good results, its like anything you have to persist and time will tell, Homesearch may have the same problem you can't hit the ground running it takes time and agents just won't wait, Homesearch technology and OTM presence would make a great combination and may be the tipping point that both companies need.


    The duopoly is broken and because of that Rightmove now stands alone. It is a legacy system that is complacent for all, expensive for most and lacks basic business manners and respect particularly for smaller firms

    If OTM want to take advantage of the opportunity they have been gifted they cannot rely on being 65% agent owned, 65% of something isn't a measurable number that can be measured against those who haven't joined and won't join.

    6000 agents have a register that doesn't support their portal spend, that means a platform like Homesearch could be a safe haven for 6000 agents who contribute disproportionately to Rightmove profits.

    this is all going to get very interesting to watch

  • Mike Riley

    Blah blah blah.

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    OTM is the only option to break RM and Zoopla

    Agent owned is the only way forward if EAs want to save on portal costs

    Anything else will only be alternatives of RM, nothing else

    The free market will force creations of other RMs if EAs don’t own their own portal

    • 27 May 2020 16:55 PM

    The free market will at some point facilitate an effective free listings service for the public which will have a profile sufficient to be known by the general public.
    At that point it is game over for EA.

    EA unfortunately are a necessary evil.
    The public would much prefer to dispense with them and sell properties amongst easchother without any EA interference.

    It will happen one day soon.
    Millions of cars are sold by private treaty without any car dealer input.
    They are effectively cut out of the business contract between consenting parties.
    Inevitably this will come to the property market.
    The internet has liberated people from the stranglehold of the EA.
    What surprises me is why facebook hasn't expanded their marketplace offer.
    Facebook could easily take on all property listings in the UK and for letting as well.
    I don't know why FB hasn't expanded into this market.
    Untill that happy day EA have the field relatively clear to make money as the old way of doing things persists.
    But it surely cannot be that the current status quo will exist for much longer.

    I guess we shall see how FB etc behave!!

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    The above was my first post for a long time John Smith. Any reason you ask?


    First posting critics gets called out for being first-posters by those being criticised

    First posting praisers get thanked by those being praised

    Just clearing things up


    Not sure I follow John Smith. I'm guessing it's about transparency. To make things clear, I have never met or spoken to the guys at Homesearch, but I think what they are doing is pretty cool.

    I noticed you only started posting recently. Is John Smith your real name?

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    Property Pundit22 May 2020 17:04 PM
    Congratulations on your first post here, what took you so long and where did you get such an original name from?

    FGS grow up !


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