Humberts today launches a new lettings department which will be made up of an online-only service, Humberts Lettings Direct, and a traditional offering, Humberts Lettings.
It has bought into technology company Propoly, a Pilabs portfolio company launched to create a ‘new lettings eco system’ where landlords and tenants communicate directly.
Countrywide is among Propoly’s backers, investing £600,000, but apparently has yet to use it across its lettings division.
Humberts will offer landlords the option to let their properties solely online, conducting the viewings themselves, or via the more traditional agency route.
Humberts said it is the only agent in the UK to offer this service where landlords can switch from the online to the traditional model at any time. The traditional offering will only be available in current Humberts branch locations.
Ian Westerling, managing director of Humberts, said: “We saw a real gap in the market for this flexible, dual lettings model. Savvy landlords looking to save money may wish to try the online lettings route but would prefer a strong, heritage brand and industry knowledge behind them.
“The option to switch over at any time, in areas where we have branches, is attractive as it gives landlords ultimate peace of mind.
“With exciting investment into Humberts and plans for further expansion nationwide we have bought into Propoly. We will be white labelling their existing service offering for our new online division, Humberts Lettings Direct.
“Humberts have been extremely impressed with Propoly’s forward thinking business model and for us it’s the perfect partnership.”
Humberts lists with OnTheMarket, which currently bans online agents – although the ban is due to be listed in the event of a stock market flotation.
Ed Ghazal, co-founder of Propoly, said: “By partnering with Humberts we aim to prove that both online and traditional lettings agency can work seamlessly and effectively alongside each other, offering landlords the ultimate choice.
“By signing up more traditional high street agents as customers the eventual objective is for Propoly to become the biggest and best place to visit for rental properties nationwide.”
The new Humberts Lettings Division will be headed up by industry veteran Suzanne Diamond, pictured, who previously led the 21-branch team at Curchods.
She will oversee both Humberts Lettings and Humberts Lettings Direct.
She said: “Customer service has always been at the very heart of the Humberts brand.
“Our Humberts Lettings Direct department will be run from a central location with an experienced manager and team – landlords using this small fixed fee service will have access to experienced professionals via phone or email to ensure a good level of support.
“The Humberts traditional lettings service is available from all of our 23 sales branches across the UK and will launch with no tenant administration fees.
“The two departments will have separate but complementary branding. At a time of evolution for our business we believe Humberts will be at the forefront of these changes.”
The online service will cost £199 plus VAT and will include listing on Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Propoly; platform for landlords and tenants to interact; a tenancy agreement; tenant referencing; legal insurance projection; and a first-month rent collection service.
If the landlord wants to swap to a traditional service, Humbers will charge in the normal way but deduct the £199 already paid.