Nationwide gets into bed with digital lettings agency Bunk – backing ‘will help DIY landlords’, says lender

Nationwide Building Society has invested in Bunk, a new digital lettings agency.

Bunk was set up by three students, Tom Woollard, Jack Widnell and Harry Stirling, when in their last year of university. They were sitting their finals while simultaneously trying to raise funding. Its online app launched on June 1 this year.

Nationwide, whose charitable arm Nationwide Foundation used to bankroll Generation Rent, would not disclose how much it has invested in Bunk, but yesterday told EYE it now holds a minority stake.

Nationwide described its backing as helping do-it-yourself landlords.

Bunk’s PR company Properganda has described Bunk as an “an all in one property app that empowers landlords and tenants with the tools to rent without the need for a letting agent”.

Bunk lists on both Rightmove and Zoopla.

Bunk describes itself on its site as the future of renting, and offers let and management services from £10 per month.

Nationwide’s investment comes from its £50m Venturing Fund, described as making strategic investments into innovative goods and services that could benefit Nationwide’s members in future.

Nationwide said: “Around half of all landlords choose to run their rental businesses on their own.

“In a market where regulations change frequently, landlords often need support in ensuring they comply with the rules.

“Bunk can automatically list a landlord’s property on reputable sites, verify tenants as well as providing peace of mind to tenants by verifying the landlord proof of ownership.

“The service allows landlords to list a property within minutes, which can then be viewed by potential tenants on their website and app as well as on major portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.”

Bunk also allows tenants and landlords to correspond within the site, so enquiries such as expressing an interest in renting a property and maintenance requests will go directly to them.

Tony Prestedge, Nationwide’s deputy chief executive, said: “Nationwide is one of the biggest buy-to-let lenders in the UK and we have long campaigned to improve standards within the rental sector for both tenants and landlords.

“Bunk is combining the latest digital technology backed up with human service to not only offer a seamless digital experience but also reduce friction in the rental market between tenants and landlords.

“Many landlords choose to manage their portfolio on their own. The service that Bunk offers could support them, ensuring they’re on top of their obligations and providing a better service to their tenants.

“They are a natural fit for our Venturing Fund investment, which seeks to fund start-ups that are focused on making people’s lives easier through smart insights and fair practice.”

Tom Woollard, CEO at Bunk, said: “We want to build something the rental market has never seen before. Landlords are facing reduced margins coupled with increased regulation and there has never been a better time to make their lives easier through the use of technology.

“Bunk is there to make the process less stressful and more enjoyable for both renters and landlords.

“Bunk’s mission is to make renting work for everyone and we’re thrilled to have a partner like Nationwide backing our vision.”

Bunk is Bristol-based but aims to cover the UK and has 14 staff. Yesterday it had 16 properties on Rightmove.

rentbunk.com

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9 Comments

  1. seenitall

    Nationwide?     the company who is going bust and shares are worth less then half a pack of old crisps?

    Bunk can advertise within minutes?  what about AML regs seeing original documents?

     

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    1. Mothers Ruin

      Are you thinking of Countrywide seenitall? 

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  2. Mrlondon52

    They’ve done well to convince Nationwide that there are not serious barriers to scale.

    The question is the one they all face: cost of acquisition vs realistic LTV when your point of difference is super low cost.

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  3. LordElpus56

    Looks a bit amateurish.

    The website is clearly a Wix site, and “Sophie” who provided the “testimonial” is a stock image used on many of Wix’s templates.

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  4. NotAdoctor32

    Be interesting to see the scale of the RM & Z costs when they have more than 16 properties.

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  5. CountryLass

    Well, I just tried to search for a property to be told that their Internet Explorer page is ‘coming soon’ and (I quote) “please upgrade to a modern browser”!

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  6. KByfield04

    At £80-100 per property per annum I wish them the best of luck acquiring a customer at that cost let alone delivering an effective & compliant service and, god forbid, then a margin. The average letting agents charges around £800 per annum and operates at a 16% profit margin which means about £690 operating cost- and they are undercutting that by around 85%. I’m all for digital innovation but lettings is complex and compliance costly, clients are costly to acquire- why go so cheap? Why not pitch at £500 pa and join the agency marketplace rather than alienate yourself from a huge profession right from the offset? Having apparently never worked in agency before launching bunk hes got some eye-opening moments ahead of him.

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  7. Mothers Ruin

    I’m surprised that such a big lender would want to encourage DIY landlords. My own BTL mortgages are with TMW one of their subsidiaries. It might end up that some landlords already using professional agents go DIY. Thanks for that Nationwide!

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  8. whatdoiknow58

    Nationwide Building Society should clearly be looking to rebrand as Nationwide Investment and Start up Bank. What happens when their ‘ investment’ goes south? Err nothing cause it’s not their money anyway. Why not spend more money on actually helping tenants directly like investing in buy to let/affordable housing projects and make a real impact with your customers money or is that too simple rather than take an easy punt/gamble on some ‘ Dragons Den ‘ pitch.

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