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Property Natter - When Angels rose from the ashes (part ll)

In my last Natter, I recounted the story of how Angels media bounced back from the 2008 financial crisis by launching our ‘Today’ titles. But I was already thinking ahead and my old obsession returned. How could we create vendor leads for estate agents?

The story unfolds…

When I was a mortgage broker, in my early 20’s I approached a load of Estate Agents to introduce mortgage business to me.  


I got the door slammed in my face many, many times, probably because they thought ‘who is this young upstart thinking he can close mortgage business for us’

This has never left me, and it made me think… ‘Well, ok - I’ll set up my own estate agency then’.

 I didn’t have a clue how to do it but I found someone who did. 

It became clear very quickly that the lifeblood of estate agency (as well as mortgage business) was to list property for sale or let. Vendor/landlord leads were the Holy Grail. 

This presented an opportunity to me – how could I generate these leads for agents? 

Last month we generated over 120,000 for our Agents. While these are of varying qualities, we know now that almost 20% of them will turn into business. They are all unique and neither Zoopla nor Rightmove and OTM can claim that they generate that many (unique) sellers/landlords.

What I had in mind  

The portals are mainly for buyers and tenants, and buyers that may happen to have a property for sale or let as part of their buying process. 

Looking back to the ‘nosy neighbour effect’, from PART 1… I found a company that had an algorithm that could value properties.  

I casually said to them that I wanted to try it on my website, they happily took a monthly fee from me, straightforward but obviously, they didn’t know what I had in mind.

So, we launched valuemyproperty.co.uk, a B2C site, Google-esque in that all it had on the homepage was a big box to put your postcode in, and we would return a valuation. 

We sent out a load of mailers to drive traffic to the site. I literally couldn’t believe it. Approximately 30% of visitors shared their contact details to get their online valuation. We had thousands of leads coming in. I remember my phone smoking with all these leads coming in, I was on a train at the time. 

Lee and Craig set about calling these leads to qualify them. We found that they were serious but were early in the process. Certainly, back at that time, it was unique to be able to get an instant online valuation of your property online. People were very curious but not particularly serious at that point – the ‘nosey neighbours’ effect. 

So, now we knew we could generate leads, we knew we had the interest from the consumer, so I thought, great - let’s figure out how could we get loads more leads, obvs. 

But we had to monetise these leads somehow. Afterall, some of these people would want to sell their properties, but identifying those needles in a haystack appeared a challenge… if only there was a way to nurture them… 

Gave me motivation

It’s expensive to buy in B2C traffic, so I set about wondering how we could get traffic that was better qualified, and preferably free!! 

Whilst out running one day, it came to me in a flash. The answer was from an agent's OWN website and there are thousands of them in the UK so it’s a pretty big market to target.

We set about creating a white-label version for an agent's site, I think it was Dorian the Belvoir CEO in the very beginning. He is a great guy, and very open to new ideas and forward-thinking, so he liked the idea, and this gave me motivation.

At that time the biggest objection from Agents was… Look, we are the valuers, we know what we’re doing, and we don’t need a computer algorithm to tell us. 

I had to convince agents that it wasn’t about the valuation, it was about the intent of the consumer. These are people showing intent that they may sell or let. The message that this is simply a ‘lead magnet’ (in marketing terms) and not a competitor gradually got through and still stands today.

I remember talking to a supplier about partnering with me on this in 2011 as they wanted to get more connected to the home-moving consumer.

I suggested 3 things: 

1. A valuation tool on Agent’s websites 

2. A Rightmove-esque property search on Agent's OWN websites.  

3. Database mining - at that time It was only by telephone though. 

They didn’t see the benefit of implementing any of these ideas. Now I’m pleased they didn’t, so we did it ourselves. 

Valpal was born. 

So that brings us up-to-date as to how we got to where we are today with Valpal, and now the add on to nurture leads - enter MovePal. 

Next time I’ll set out my vision for MovePal and where that fits into the overall Angels journey.  


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