Rob Ellice on easyProperty's launch into land and new homes
Posted 11 January 2016 by Helen Christie
Online estate agency easyProperty, having secured a £25m investment in its latest round of funding, has launched a Land and New Homes division.
CEO of easyProperty Rob Ellice says: “This new division was a natural progression for us and is a key element to any successful estate agency. The use of new technology makes it really interesting and exciting. We have the option for off-plan buying and for people to be able to exchange contracts online from anywhere in the world. It’s one of the residential market’s growing sectors with substantial new housebuilding volumes and we want to be part of that.”
Ellice, the former boss of estate agency Clarke Hillyer, said the land and new homes model is flexible with "very few developers the same".
“Everyone likes to have their service tailored to them and that is exactly what we are able to do. For example, if you just want us to provide leads to the show house with your staff in there then we can do that, or we can do the full service including the viewings. So rather than having it all bundled up, you can choose the elements that you want us to provide. We’re more fixed price estate agents rather than online estate agents as you are only paying for what you use.”
The lead investor in the latest round was Toscafund, a London-based hedge fund. Martin Hughes from Toscafund which has previously backed successful e-commerce industry disruptors such as online insurance firm Esure and is a shareholder in housebuilder Redrow, says: “Being the first to discover Direct Line Insurance in the 1980s, a motor insurance company that used the telephone, a then disruptive approach, to grow to become the largest UK motor insurer, I have successfully continued the search for disruptive businesses in the 30 years since.
"easyProperty offers the brand, technology and management to enable a considerable saving to property transaction costs compared to the incumbents. The online process is an impressive disruptive approach to ease a much-needed overcharged road block to the population mobility. We look forward, with confidence, to easyProperty leading the online development of property transactions and services in the UK and Europe."
Exceeding the initial £5m target, the new injection of £16m in capital – and the potential for £9 million more – brings the total investment since easyProperty’s inception to £39.25m and has brought the current public valuation of easyProperty – part of the easyGroup brand licensing company owned by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou - to in excess of £100m.
Ellice adds: “This new, very substantial investment from Toscafund is a real opportunity to keep expanding both in the sales and lettings markets in the UK and in pan-European property services, and a sure indication of how we plan to take the market share from traditional high street agencies.”