We ask Rob Ellice, CEO of easyProperty why it's a good idea to rent your home online.
What would you say is the core business ethos behind easyProperty?
easyProperty wants to make selling and letting properties as affordable, convenient and transparent as possible. We help landlords list their properties on the big online property portals Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation, where the vast majority of people looking for a house to rent are searching. Instead of charging commission on finding tenants, fees are upfront, fixed at very reasonable price points, and people can choose optional extras such as hosted viewings and floor plans.
Why do you think there has been such a surge in the number of online estate agents in recent years?
Today, people do everything online from shopping to planning holidays and even finding love – renting a home is no different. We embrace new technologies and our economies of scale mean that our services are much less expensive than traditional high street branches, with their branded cars and in-house coffee shops. People are learning that online agents can save them a lot of money letting or selling their property, while still providing an excellent level of service so the sector is naturally growing as demand increases.
What services can easyProperty offer to a landlord?
easyProperty offers comparable services to that of a high street agent, the difference is we’ve broken them out separately to allow landlords to select exactly what they require. easyProperty currently offers three packages – a basic free service, a standard package including advertising on the major portals and referencing tenants for £9.99 a week and a premium service for only £59.99 for three months, which includes tenancy agreement and deposit protection as well as advertising on the major portals and referencing tenants. We also offer property management at an extremely competitive 3.6 per cent. All our prices include VAT.
Why would a landlord choose a new online agent instead of a traditional high street letting agent?
It is clear that traditional high street agents are carrying unnecessary dead weight. Online agents offer all the individual services that landlords need but because of lower overheads, we are able to pass massive savings on to landlords. As well as cost savings, online agencies offer more flexibility for landlords to choose the services they want and to avoid being tied into lengthy contracts.
A criticism often levelled at online agents is that they have little local expertise. What would you say to these critics?
There are a lot of myths about expertise from traditional estate agents, mostly that being local helps them to find tenants faster and that they offer better advice on rental income. The fact is that over 90 per cent of people searching for a property do so online, not on the high street. And with data available at the click of a button, it is perfectly possible to evaluate local rent patterns or sales prices from anywhere. We also have partners up and down the country providing expert skills for services traditionally handled by a junior agent, such as professional photography.
How has the business grown since it was launched?
We are constantly adapting to the needs of our customers and in the last year have launched new services including furnishing options, property management and commercial lettings, all at very competitive rates. The number of properties we let continues to grow each month and short term we aim to let 1,000 homes a month. We plan to expand across Europe within three years.
What plans do you have for the sales site and when is it due to launch?
Our sales offering will be launching in September and will be available across England and Wales. Our model includes something that is not currently available anywhere else in the market which we believe is exactly what consumers are looking for.
What does the future have in store for easyproperty?
Our vision is to continue to demystify and transform the property sector by applying our ethos of choice, transparency and value in everything we do. Visit easyproperty.com for more.
Best of the rest: five online property agents
Upad: The online letting agency let 5,400 properties last year, according to its website. It offers a fully-managed letting service for £299.99 and it advertises single rooms as well as commercial spaces.
Rentify: With two centres, one based in the north of England and another in the south, Rentify advertises 1,450 properties a month on its site, and it works with around 175,000 landlords.
PurpleBricks: This online agent sells and lets property, offering a fully managed service to landlords from £25 + VAT a month. It also has a search function so prospective tenants can browse its landlords’ lets.
eMoov: Founder Russell Quirk sold the family business – five independent estate agencies – to set up eMoov in 2010. It claims to have sold around 3,500 properties to date.
Tepilo: This online estate agency is the brainchild of Sarah Beeny, presenter of Channel 4’s Property Ladder. It offers to sell or let your home from £545 including VAT.