More than 500 territory requests have been logged by Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country agents expressing their intention to secure an easyProperty licence.
Each easyProperty territory will cost a Guild or Fine & Country agent £500 and consist of some 20,000 properties.
News of the early take-up follows an eight-day, ten-city regional roadshow hosted by new CEO Jon Cooke.
At the time of the announcement earlier this month, the deal was described by Guild and Fine & Country parent company GPEA as a merger.
For example, Guild managing director Malcolm Lindley announced the deal under the headline: “GPEA and easyProperty announce merger.”
He explained at the time: “We have secured financial backing from Toscafund Asset Management LLP [backers of easyProperty] in order to acquire the licence to easyProperty and fund the marketing required to launch and successfully penetrate the market.”
The deal does not complete until at least next month, so it does seem unusual that a new CEO is already in place.
The easyProperty brand will be relaunched in September, with a flotation to be explored in January, according to the timeline.
This morning’s statement from Cooke simply says that it is GPEA that has acquired easyProperty but goes into no further detail as to the financing of the deal, rumoured to be worth £60m.
A spokesperson explained that GPEA has most control of the parent company, e-Prop Services.
Cooke said in the statement that “since GPEA announced its acquisition of easyProperty on June 7, enquiries by members have been strong as well as many requests from non-members to join to secure an easyProperty licence”.
He went on: “Letters of Intent have been sent by easyProperty to those GPEA members who attended the three-hour presentation and we have already received back about 31% duly signed.
“There has been a lot of industry speculation from naysayers who seem to have a louder voice than those in support of our licence proposition.
“However, a large number of members are receptive to the online proposition.
“One message we continuously repeat at easyProperty is that consumer behaviour is changing and we are offering members the opportunity to cater to the do-it-yourself, technology-enhanced preferences for home-sellers and landlords without undermining their own brand.
“GPEA has always been an advocate and champion of independent agents.
“The easyProperty licences offer more ammunition, another string to the bow for independent agents to use to defend and increase their market share. This is about enabling members. There is no compulsory requirement from members – it’s an option available.”
Since June 14, easyProperty has met with hundreds of members across the UK in areas including Coventry, London, Tunbridge Wells, Southampton, Exeter, Bristol, Manchester, Yorkshire, Newcastle and East Anglia.
Due to what Cooke says is strong demand, a final roadshow will be held in London this Friday (June 30).
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At the weekend, Cooke told EYE that the roadshows so far have been “incredibly popular”, and attended by agents with “open minds”. He said that they liked the public recognition of the ‘easy’ brand, and the fact that they were at least being offered an option to meet what Cooke called a change in customer behaviour.
Non-members had also asked about joining the Guild, so they could also take up the easyProperty option. He said the 31% sign-up rate was in line with, or slightly in excess of, expectations.
Of the future, Cooke said he believed there were be two players in the online agency space: “There will be us and one other,” he said, declining to be drawn on who the other player might be.