Nigel Poole is Director of Place on the Market, which launched in March 2015 and is offering a brand new ‘dating’ service to estate agents and vendors. He told Today’s Conveyancer why people will fall in love with it!
What’s your background and what’s the story behind Place on the Market, Nigel?
“I founded Eurolink Technology Limited 25 years ago with my business partner Paul Chappell. We develop, sell and support the Veco property software application and it’s become one of the leading brands in the industry.
“As for Place on the Market, we registered the domain name back in 2004 – way before we had the idea – because we thought it could come in handy one day. It was at the time when the whole dotcom thing was kicking off and we thought we’d probably develop websites at some point in the future. So we bought a few domain names based on the types of things we were interested in.
“I came up with the concept of Place on the Market in 2009 because I felt there had to be a way for people to use the Internet to market property. Obviously home buyers use portals to search for property but I thought about turning that on its head and using them for home sellers to market property as well. So I started thinking around a service that complimented what traditional estate agents do and developing a website around that. There’s one service in Australia offering a similar type of introduction service but this is the first of its kind in the UK.”
So how does it work?
“It’s a bit like on-line dating for home owners and estate agents. Home owners put their property details on the website and then estate agents contact them with a proposal for marketing it – their terms and conditions and the price they think the property should be listed at. So a seller might have ten estate agents contact them and they’re then able to choose which to meet – that could be one or three. Once the home owner’s made their choice, the estate agent is given, via our system, their contact details.”
How long did it take to develop the software?
“We’ve been developing the software over the past three years – a lot of that work has been around making it easy to use. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right but I think we’ve come up with a website that works.”
How much does it cost to sign up?
“The home owner pays £1 to use the service – that’s it. There isn’t much money to be made in charging for services on the Internet so, instead, we’ll make it through ancillary advertising and the promotional side of things. So service companies will promote their wares to people using Place on the Market – removal firms; conveyancers, of course; home decorators and electrical companies, for example.”
So estate agents are getting a free service?
“Yes – and they love it. The reaction we’ve had from estate agents is 100% positive. This is levelling the playing field for them because at the moment the vendor rings an estate agent they have heard of – the most popular brand, say, or the one with the biggest advertising budget – and goes with them. Now we’re giving all the agents in the local area an opportunity to present their case – a home owner’s details go out to 20 estate agents in the immediate area and they are all given a chance to pitch. And we can send a property’s details out nationally too, if that’s what the home owner requests.
“We’ve had estate agents registering from high street locals to national chains in the past month – if you look at the website you’ll see some of the names that have signed up already.”
What’s the benefit to the seller?
“Well, they don’t need to spend days ringing round local estate agents to find the best deal – we do that for them. And something else that makes Place on the Market unique is that if a vendor’s in a hurry to sell an estate agent – once their proposal has been accepted – can market the house immediately on-line. The information we capture is in the correct format for Rightmove and Zoopla so an estate agent can have a property listed within a couple of clicks and get things moving before even meeting the vendor.”
How are you publicising Place on the Market?
“Have you heard of growth hacking – it’s a great term isn’t it? So growth hacking is all about raising awareness through social media and word of mouth and, so far, it’s working well. We’re building our Twitter following and running a Facebook campaign.
“We started with a database of 6000 estate agents – we entered every single one of those ourselves so that took a few months. But it meant we had a reasonable reach from the get-go when a home owner listed with us. Four homeowners have listed with us since launch – it’s very early days – but, when their properties were registered the estate agents within a 20-mile patch all received an email saying: ‘A house in your area has just come on to Place on the Market’.
“The idea is that, upon receiving that email, the estate agent then signs up to utilise our service, which is free from their point of view. And in just a couple of weeks 130 estate agents have registered.”
How many staff does Place on the Market have?
“None, exclusively, at the moment but obviously we’re supporting it through Eurolink, which is an organisation of 30 people with web developers and administration staff all involved with Place on the Market.”
Have you had any thoughts on creating a similar product to match vendors and conveyancers?
“Yes, this could definitely work for conveyancers too – that’s something we’re considering developing as we go forward.”
For more information about Place on the Market, log on to www.placeonthemarket.co.uk