The easyProperty Services Group, parent company of the Guild and Fine and Country, has sold online estate agency easyProperty to Evolve, a company that has the backing of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
Property marketing services company Evolve aims to turn the country ‘orange’ region by region with help from Sir Stelios.
The deal is expected to be finalised within the next 48 hours.
Established in 2007, Evolve provides marketing services such as photography, floor plans and inventories to the estate agency industry. The company plans to transform eProp into a hybrid estate agency rather than the ‘passive online presence’ it has been until now.
CEO David Brierley believes that moving house can be a stressful and sometimes traumatic time when customers seek help and support from experts who know the local market. Evolve’s licensees will effectively fulfil this role.
Brierley has said he is “extremely pleased” to have the financial backing of Sir Stelios as a significant shareholder and owner of the easy family of brands, who will no doubt have a personal interest in seeing the brand succeed.
The sale includes the easyProperty brand together with the website and tech platform underpinning it and is expected to bring to an end a period of several difficult years when the company struggled to achieve profitability.
New business model
eProp announced just two weeks ago that it was undertaking a strategic analysis of the online estate agency in order to determine whether to sell it off or close it down.
The deal will enable the company to offer marketing services to eProp’s existing licensees.
Brierley is planning to spend money on local marketing to support existing and future licensees rather than on national marketing campaigns and expensive advertising as eProp Services Group had done formerly.
He is confident that the new business model will work, despite the state of the current property market and the recent failure of some online estate agents.
He does not believe that there is any material difference between online and offline agents, except for the use of technology to facilitate the sale of property.
Evolve’s strategy will focus on helping existing eProp licensees to maximise their businesses, implementing a ‘local first’ plan of action in each area while also looking for new agents to take on licences.
Brierley states that as a majority of people move only a short distance from where they live, it makes sense to inform locals of the excellent service he will be able to offer them in selling their home.
He plans to achieve this aim by creating territories which will be licensed not to existing estate agencies but to ambitious branch managers and senior negotiators who want to strike out on their own and start their own business.
The strategy means that Evolve will look to expand eProp’s presence in Wales and South Yorkshire where licensees are already active and enjoy a strong local presence.
Once these areas have been revitalised, the company will set about optimising the brand in other areas, region by region, until eventually, the whole country has turned ‘orange’.