To say legendary ZPG founder and CEO Alex Chesterman left big boots to fill when he stepped back from day-to-day operations in September is an understatement.
The move followed the acquisition of ZPG earlier this year for £2.2 billion by Silver Lake Partners, a US private equity firm specialising in technology investments, which could provide huge growth potential for the firm to move into new sectors.
There have already been several major changes since the takeover, with a number of key executives having now left Zoopla.
But despite the alterations, ZPG’s property division, which includes Zoopla, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes, software platforms Jupix, Alto and ExpertAgent, and data businesses Hometrack and Calcasa, will continue to be run by divisional managing director, Charlie Bryant, formerly CEO of Hometrack, who has taken time out of his busy schedule to talk exclusively to Estate Agent Today about the changes and future plans…
Before joining Zoopla Group, as part of its acquisition of Hometrack last year, was there already a long-standing relationship between the two platforms?
Yes, Hometrack and Zoopla have had a long-standing relationship prior to the acquisition in 2017, having been data partners in different guises over a number of years.
The acquisition is all part of Zoopla’s wider vision and strategy to become the UK’s number one property destination and to serve its agency partners even more effectively with market-leading valuation tools and data intelligence. It was clear that both businesses shared this common vision and so were a good fit.
We now have unrivalled data capabilities and Hometrack’s unique insights are driving product innovation to help deliver better quality data, market intelligence, leads and the best value for money for agents. Delivering that value is our primary focus.
How has the addition of Hometrack to the ZPG stable benefitted Zoopla, including the property price estimates on the firm’s website?
Whilst we have realised some initial benefits, we will be bringing Hometrack’s capabilities to bear even more in the months and years to come to help agents. Hometrack clearly brings a massive ability for us to provide really interesting and useful value-added services to both consumers and agents, and that is an important differentiator for us.
Over time we’ll fully integrate many of Hometrack’s market leading capabilities into Zoopla. It’s all part of our bold and exciting plans around how we leverage our diverse assets to help make agents’ day to day lives better and more efficient.
Overall, what type of data does Zoopla now provide to help estate agents operate more effectively?
Competition among estate agents has arguably never been stronger, so finding a way to stand out from your rivals is vital. As I mentioned previously, our strategy is to become the UK’s number one property destination and to serve the needs of estate agents even more effectively with market-leading valuation tools and data intelligence.
The first innovation we are about to launch will be our new and improved Property Valuation Report which is currently in a trial stage. This exclusive report, which contains detailed information about the local market and an estimated capital value of a property, draws upon Hometrack data which is trusted by 13 out of 15 of the UK’s leading mortgage lenders.
In terms of new development tools and resources, can you tell us what’s in the planning pipeline?
The big thing on the immediate horizon is our new in-depth Property Valuation Report which is fundamentally designed to help our partner agents win even more vendor instructions.
It delivers exclusive insights in a consumer-friendly format and will enable agents to demonstrate their local expertise with accurate, reliable and independent data. It is one of many new agent focused innovations which are currently in development.
What have been the diversification benefits of branching away from the traditional business of property listings?
Zoopla has always been at the forefront of innovation in the property search market and our additional brands and services are an important part of enabling us to do that. For example, we were the first to deliver house prices, map-based search, commute times and key word search. Our aim is to get back to our roots and deliver what makes a real difference.
We see it as crucial to set the standard as the UK’s number one property search destination. Listings are vital to agents and you need to have the best search experience available. At the end of the day we’re in the business of helping agents to sell properties and creating a richer, more informative property journey is crucial to that, and will benefit everyone.
As far as new acquisitions are concerned, does ZPG plan to purchase more websites, including non-property sites, as part of a diversified investment portfolio?
Following our acquisition by SilverLake, we are committed to making material investment to help agents run their businesses and maximise opportunities in the current market.
This investment will cover a number of areas including investing in our brand, our people and our products, and, although we have no immediate plans, it may potentially lead to acquisitions in the future.
It’s an exciting time for Zoopla and the UK property market at large. We’re totally committed to becoming the UK’s number one agent-focused property destination. We’re uniquely positioned to help agents to run their businesses better than any other portal and so our focus is to deliver the best possible value for money for them.
Moving forward, what is your vision for Zoopla as an essential online resource to help agents?
Our focus is to become the number one property destination in the UK and to enhance each agent’s reach and visibility. Every agent matters to us, so our job is to help agents find new and innovative ways to win and close instructions and to help them run their business efficiently and cost-effectively day to day.
We offer a myriad of ways to do that, from agent software platforms, integrated websites and audience targeting to the best data and insights. Zoopla focuses on smart solutions to ensure our agents have what they need to succeed and stay ahead. Put simply, we offer unrivalled value for money.
*Marc Da Silva is Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today Features Editor and Editor of Landlord Today. You can follow him on Twitter @propertyjourno