Newspaper raises doubts about valuation of Yopa and says ‘It doesn’t pay to be a digital estate agent’

Doubts have been raised about the valuation of Yopa and the future of online estate agency in a piece in the Sunday Times.

Run under the headline “It doesn’t pay to be a digital estate agent – just ask Yopa and Purplebricks”, the piece by Peter Evans says that many “struggle to find a business model that works”.

The article says that Yopa’s recent £16m fund-raise took the loss-making start-up’s total fund raising to above £90m “and looked like a vote of confidence”.

However, the article claims: “According to several sources, Yopa’s latest fund-raising was a ‘down round’ – meaning the company raised funds at a lower valuation than before.

“Based on research from the researcher Beauhurst, Yopa was valued at £116m before it raised £20m in July last year.

“The current valuation has not been disclosed.”

Grenville Turner, the newly appointed chairman of Yopa, declined to comment on the valuation.

Yopa’s backers include Savills and LSL – but the latter did not contribute to the latest fund-raise and has down-valued its original £20m stake to £7.8m.

The article says that Purplebricks has faced scepticism about the transparency of its business model and its shares have dropped by over 70% in the last two years.

The current market slump and the high cost of customer acquisition are both cited as the main problems for online agents.

Purplebricks spent £42.1m on sales and marketing last year, and had a total revenue of £93.7m, says the article which quotes Russell Quirk as saying: “It’s an impossible sector to thrive in.”

“He should know,” says the article. “He founded Emoov which collapsed last year.”

There were 856,420 transactions in England and Wales last year, with online agents thought to be behind less than 7% of them, says Evans.

He also quotes Tom Scarborough, founder of new business Movewise, which lists a property with successive agents until it is sold, and which was called BestBid when it raised £500,000 earlier this year. (See link below to EYE story in April.)

Scarborough said: “People who are listed with online agents are our best customers.

“They’ve had no viewings for months. We get hold of them, send them to the best local agents and they get 20 viewings.”

Movewise, backed by Lovefilm co-founder William Reeve, takes a 0.25% commission when the property sells.

Scarborough is targeting unhappy customers of online agents: “We want to steal all their customers.”

As the article went out yesterday, Quirk tweeted: “Yopa . . . like the online agency sector as a whole now. Once the exciting fling, now the discarded one night stand.”

The full article is here although you may find that it is behind a paywall.


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  1. MH -RM

    Estate Agency is a a complicated business … a simple process on first inspection. Add in the complications of everyone’s unique needs and desires the simple becomes a great deal more complex. The online one man in his/her car arranging viewings via “guides” has seemingly grabbed the attention of the public but it is surely close to being revealed as a poor impersonator of the industry experts, the high street agent,

    1. Property Pundit

      This post sums up online agency in a nutshell.

  2. GPL

    If you look over there ……at the edge of that abyss, you can see all those Online Property Listing Companies just standing there, p*ss*ng vast sums of money over the edge!
    Meanwhile… established/professional High Street/Local Estate Agents get on with the proper business of Selling Homes for the UK public – 93% of the UK Property Market.
    93% of the UK Property Market know the value of a “real” Estate Agent  …and they know to avoid a “virtual” Property Listing Company (like Yopa, Purplebricks etc).  

  3. LetItGo

    Its a ‘told you so’ from the high street agents…..


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