With the brains of easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-loannou and property entrepreneur Rob Ellice, the online agency purports to compete with the commission-based pricing, overheads and fees of high street estate agents in the multi-billion pound lettings market by providing an unbundled pricing model and a focus on quality and customer service.
“Research shows consumers are unhappy with the current situation with letting agencies, and that 93 per cent of people begin their property search online, usually through Rightmove or Zoopla,” Chris Welch, chief marketing officer of easyProperty.com told Marketing Week.
Welch, who joined the company from the online gaming sector working on brands such as pokerstars and partypoker, says of the 180 online letting and estate agencies that exist only 10 are national and none are connected to a national brand, which he believes is the key to breaking into the market.
“Consumers (landlords) are looking for a brand they can trust,” Welch says. “We can also offer them national coverage, as some of their properties may be spread over wide geographical areas and we eventually hope to hit all four corners of the UK.”
The easy brand has demonstrated its popularity with the likes of easyJet, which purports to provide what Welch calls a slightly more upmarket option to its discount competitors, as well as easyGym, easyCar and easyHotel.
“We’re providing a pick and mix price for the consumer (landlord), where they can choose which products they want,” Welch says. One option is a listing on property search sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
He adds that with market-leading prices, the agency hopes to bring people into the market who don’t usually use estate agents.
One of these targets groups is what Welch refers to as “Generation Rent,” who are “younger consumers that can’t afford to buy their own home, or, unlike their parents before them, are choosing not to buy at all as a lifestyle choice.”
The company raised £9.75m through a mix of crowd funding and private investment, half of which they have allocated to marketing in order to stand out among the intense competition of the housing market.
“At the moment the online market is at five per cent, but we think this can grow to 30 per cent within five years,” Welch says.
The brand awareness campaign, which kicked off last week with value-oriented, orange-branded messages in regional and national press and through digital channels, social media and display, will continue through to next year.
“It’s largely an education task, as we need to let people know we exist,” Welch says. “We then need to let them know the difference between traditional and digital [estate] agencies.”
The agency, which is currently focusing on residential lettings but plans to move into residential sales in summer 2015, has signed over three and a half thousand landlords so far.
“It’s not a revolution,” Welch says. “It’s not a massive change. It’s an evolution – a natural journey for consumers between going into traditional agencies and moving to digital.”