A firm which provides online comparison services in conveyancing has acquired a legal service as it ramps up its plans to penetrate the estate agency introducer market.
ULS Technology already owns a one-third stake in the HomeOwners Alliance, which it acquired last year, and operates an estate agency comparison website www.estateagent4me.co.uk
This is offered directly to the public through the HomeOwners Alliance website. Members of the public submit fairly basic information online and in return get details of the supposedly best performing agents in their area, based on such factors as fees and time to sell.
According to ULS, however, the explicit purpose of the tool is “to grow its conveyancing market share”.
ULS, which is AIM-listed and based in Oxfordshire, has now acquired Conveyancing Alliance for £7.2m, plus an earn-out until the end of March 2019. Altogether, the maximum price will be £12.5m.
ULS says its estateagent4me tool will now be used to help Conveyancing Alliance grow its volumes in the estate agency sector.
Conveyancing Alliance was originally part of Badger, owners of estate agents Townend, before being sold as a separate entity to its management, led by Harpal Singh.
Conveyancing Alliance currently operates under three brands, Conveyancing Alliance and Agency Convey which both target the estate agency sector, and Broker Conveyancing, targeted at the mortgage broker sector.
The business, which had revenues of £4.4m in 2015, allows agents and brokers to introduce new customers’ cases via Conveyancing Alliance’s software platform, which then enables them to instruct from a panel of conveyancers.
Ben Thompson, CEO of ULS, said: “This acquisition is central to our strategy of growing market share in the UK conveyancing market and pursuing further growth via introductions from the estate agency market.
“Around half of all UK conveyancing is bought by consumers following estate agent recommendations.
“Currently ULS has little presence in this sector, which is one of the reasons that the strategic fit with Conveyancing Alliance is so strong.”
The HomeOwners Alliance, which sets out its stall as the independent home owners’ champion, encourages members of the public to find the best estate agent for them by using the estateagent4me tool.
The tool was launched on the HomeOwners Alliance site last summer, with chief executive Paula Higgins saying at the time: “We want to take the chance and risk out of choosing an estate agent, and help home owners choose one that is best suited for them based on hard data about the agent’s local performance.
“Home sellers can take an informed decision, whether it’s based on getting the highest asking price, selling quickest or how much they pay in fees.
“We know that estate agents are a critical part of the home selling process, so we’re pleased to be able to showcase the best ones. And in a way that allows people to properly research agents outside of office hours and from the comfort of their own sofa.”