Poundland founder launches first 'hybrid' estate agency
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
The UK's first 'hybrid' model estate agency has opened its doors to crowdfunding investors.
Chaired by Poundland founder Steve Smith, EstatesDirect.com is a fixed fee estate agency which aims to bridge the gap betwen online and high street estate agents.
Originally launching in 2012, the joint venture between Mr Smith, Match.com pioneer Darren Richards and entrepreneur Ben Grove, the site offers to sell or let any property online for a fixed fee, and claims to save customers money in traditional estate agent commissions, while also employing regional agents who provide local knowledge and meet with customers on a one-to-one basis.
The service uses websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla to market properties for sale from £195, as well as finding tenants from £45.
Yet as well as reaping the financial benefits of using an online estate agency, customers can also meet with the company’s qualified regional agents who will value their property, list it online and handle appointments, valuations and viewings in areas across the UK where the service is available.
The company has sold and let more than 450 properties over the last two years.
And the general public can now buy equity in EstatesDirect.com through Crowdcube, a crowdfunding platform designed to enable companies to raise venture capital from public investors.
Steve Smith said: “More than 95% of home movers now search for property online and it is predicted that within a few years, 60-70 per cent of all properties on the market will be listed by online estate agents. Yet, we know that homeowners and landlords still value the knowledge and service they receive from experts in the field.
“That’s why EstatesDirect.com combines the two. Our online platform means we can sell and let property at a fair, fixed price for consumers, but we also have a number of franchised businesses, licensees and local agents, who provide the expertise and personalised service of a high-street estate agent.
"For us, it’s all about giving sellers more control and removing the hefty commission fees associated with the traditional estate agency model.
“We have ambitions to make EstatesDirect.com the UK largest, single branded, personal estate agency network within the next few years, so now is the right time to open the company up to crowd funding on Crowdcube.”