What can you deliver in 100 days? – Homesearch launches to agents

Following the news last Friday that the 10,000th agency branch had committed to list on challenger portal, Homesearch, we were interested to hear from CEO Giles Ellwood about what it has been like to attempt to launch a new player in the market.

Homesearch launches for agents today. The public launch is on 15th July.

Ellwood wrote:

It’s just gone 11:37pm on Monday 29th June and we’re 24.4 hours away from showing estate agents what we’ve been deliriously working towards for the last 99 days.

In hindsight, we probably should have just said that we’re doing “it”, and not given a firm when.

But, if we’d developed in secret, or taken our time to get everything we wanted finished, we may have never found ourselves as far down the rabbit hole as we are today.

Pressure often does strange and wonderful things to people and businesses (I write as I wonder how many of our team are in as much need of a break as I am).

I’m writing this as an explanation as to where Homesearch is today as much as I am just to give myself a break from feed setups (I sincerely believe this is the lone reason so many challenger portals have failed. It makes you want to give up at times).

At the end of March we made a decision to build something that would give the members of the public a cleaner, more informed and less compromised search experience, and give agents a more cost effective way of marketing their stock and their services.

100 days later (a little overdue from our original goal of 25th May) we are baring all to the world (well, the estate agency world… and probably a few competitors).

What you’ll see from today is still very much a work in progress. It’s been rapidly designed and developed over the last 100 days.

This whole thing started with a letter to the industry and a pledge to try and make the property market a more informed and proactive place.

Have we achieved it? God no. Will we? With the industry’s help, we just might. Today is just the beginning.

If you use the site today, tomorrow, next week or next month you’ll notice some bits changing daily (like the number of instructions feeding in your area), while some glaringly obvious other missing links will take more time.

I want to say a big thank you to our team who have all worked literally day and night to try and pull this off.

Companies usually spend 90 days debating ideas, not actioning them hours after inception.

Our business, and we believe the industry, is all about progress.

If we can make small daily improvements to Homesearch then it’s our hope those marginal gains will transfer to your own business.

Our business, and we believe the industry, is all about progress.

If we can make small daily improvements to Homesearch then it’s our hope those marginal gains will transfer to your own business.

 

10,000th agency branch has committed to list with Homesearch

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31 Comments

  1. Ric

    Honest opinion. Argh. Just Argh.

    Take the BETA down.

    You don’t need ickle old moaning me to make Homesearch work, but for me personally, it is that far from functional, I am just getting more annoyed with not being able to see what my clients might see.

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    1. SamH

      Hi Ric, thank you for the comment and your emails. The whole point of any Beta release is to test and learn. We know it’s fair from perfect, but the entire product/site will get better faster using feedback like yours that it ever will with us just sitting in a room (or over a google meet) debating features among ourselves.

      Sure, we’re opening ourselves up to some criticism, but that’s okay too. Just reinforces the mission to change things. If people feel passionately enough to call us out, it means they want it to get better. Apathy is worse (in my opinion). Maybe you don’t agree that we’re going about it the right way but putting things out there for open debate and building off the back of it feels right to us.
      Appreciate you being so involved so far today. We’re gathering every piece of feedback and user data over the next 3 days and will be priorisiting and actioning it over the weekend. You can expect an update from us early next week.
      Sam

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    2. Commentator91

      It’s great that Homesearch want us agents to give feedback. They obviously want to LISTEN and learn, and then to implement changes based on what the industry wants….

       

      …when did RM or Z last do that?!

      We need a property search platform (I’m not calling it a portal because Homesearch will be so much more than that) that is good for agents, good for the industry, and good for the public. I truly believe Homesearch will be that, so we need to collectively get behind it. Now!

       

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      1. Robert_May

        “We need a property search platform”  the lexicon of change! #PSP is a thing Sam! Well done!

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  2. Giles E

    Ric,

    Thanks for your feedback, you’ll see the more images and more listings populating over the next few weeks as the feeds turn on.

    In the meantime, we put placeholders up. No communication is going out to the public, so your clients wont be seeing anything until its a bit further down the line.

    We ideally wanted to give Agents a change to explore the framework and provide feedback.

    We’ve already had some excellent and constructive suggestions already.

    Giles

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    1. Ric

      I can’t see pictures within properties… can you point me to a listing which when I click on it I can see what the public will see about that house….

      I have searched a few in my area, but cannot find a listing which is complete.

      Obviously I have instinctively looked at my own listings… to judge. (Selfish *ric) *hew the damn “*” button sto**ed working

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      1. Giles E

        Sure, 
        I found this one: 
        https://homesearch.co.uk/live-listing/af3ca3704ccb96dc3d9125a401099fbe
        Ric, the images are frustrating the hell out of me too.. With so much support from agents signing up, we totally changed all our image servers 6 weeks ago to cater for the feeds and its been like a tug of war with a castle to get the various CRMs to coordinate the last bits.
        Some take a week to reply to every email. The good news is that they are almost all in various stages of completion from 40% to 98%.. 
        There are over a quarter of a million listings with millions of lovely images on our servers waiting to be linked to the correct branches. – they will start coming online in days and weeks. 
        Please bear with us just a little bit longer, our team are working as fast as they (and the CRMs can go).
        Sincerely 
        Giles

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        1. Giles E

          Ric,
          Thats how every listing will look when it comes from a feed. 
          https://homesearch.co.uk/live-listing/af3ca3704ccb96dc3d9125a401099fbe
          Do we have your CRM details so we can link your listings up to feed like that?
           
           
           
           

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          1. Ric

            Thank you. You do have my CRM provider, pretty sure.
            I might be… no definitely am, being a miserable sod, so will bow out of this. 
             

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            1. smile please

              Ric we have had out fingers burnt so many times over the years, you are right to be sceptical 😉 

              Report
          2. XML2U

            Hi Giles, I wanted to talk to you about feeds. Can you email me at sales@xml2u.com – thanks.

            Report
  3. smile please

    I am impressed.

    Looks clean, few bugs but as the guys said to be expected over the next few weeks..

    Love the fact no third party adverts (hope this continues).

    Only issue i have is not clear where to book a viewing, just a button that says ‘Website’ which takes you to the agents website. Also be good to see a virtual tour which i am yet to find.

    solid 10/10 for effort,

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    1. Giles E

      Thank you smile-please, 
      That means a lot. 
      I can confirm – There will categorically NOT be any 3rd party ads or junk clouding the picture for the consumer.  
      Re: the agent contact details, we are using the next two weeks to confirm with agents which email & phone they wish to use for each branch. As soon as this info is in for each one, you will see: 
      The phone number, the email and the website..
      So if its missing, we do know about it and we have a team of 20 updating them every day, please feel free to email us if yours are missing. 
       
      The quickest way to get your listings all showing perfectly is to email your CRM and Cc: feeds@homesearch.co.uk (The CRMs require your authorisation to send.)
       
      Other than maybe the Zoopla owned CRMs, all others have waived charges to Agents to feed to Homesearch and we do not charge for listings or to send all leads.
       
      lastly video and virtual tours will show here when they are send by your CRM:  
       
      under the price and area
      For sale   5 beds    4 baths     3,197 sqft     Floorplan     Video Tour     Virtual Tour      

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  4. Honest_Bloke_78

    I cannot believe these guys are still claiming 10,000 branches! Could you stop misleading people? PIE just do analysis before publishing claims like this.

    so here is the extract of some agents Homesearch claims signed up to Homesearch:

    1. Homesearch claims that Purplebricks has 616 branches! Really? One LPE= branch?

    2. It seems that FIA signed up all the members to Homesearch. Does FIA have authority?

    3. According to Homesearch RAN signed up 500 branches. Are RAN members aware of that? Have they given their permission to RAN to sign their branches to Homesearch portal?

    4. It seems that Belvoir, Hunters, Keller Williams, Northwood, Fine & Country all signed up twice as group and also as individual branches! Nice way to pump up numbers – count them twice!

    5. Other questionable sign ups include:

    – Knight Frank

    – Carter Jonas

    – Romans Leaders

    – Dexters

    – Savills

    – LSL

    Oh yes, it seems 4 branches of Haart signed up without asking for a permission from the Group.

    I seriously doubt these agents signed a portal agreement (if there is one actually).

    at least 5,000 of 10,000 branches are based on questionable figures and the other 5,000 agreed to get an update not to list.

    If this is not true, I invite Homesearch to provide facts!

    it is bad, it is embarassing. Be honest Homesearch!

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    1. SamH

      Hi Honest,

      All the companies you’ve mentioned have had C level conversations with us and have themselves put their own companies and branch numbers down – (including the FIA/RAN/Guild/F&C who all wanted to make sure their groups had the opportunity to 1. list for free and 2. subscribe to the Network for the cheapest price possible should they wish to). There are instances where we have individual franchises who have put their own name down but we don’t police that list militantly. It’s there to show the industry progress. It isn’t a contract.

      When we first announced everything we had a simple name and branch form for people to register their interest but as that took off we needed to gather more information earliest in the process to help try and streamline our own feed set up. This is when we added the CRM form and updated the heading to “list your properties for free with HS”. That (to us at least) is pretty clear as to what you’re wanting to do.

      PB do count their agents as LPEs/branches. This may not be what high street agents will agree with but it’s not for us to tell them how to operate or classify their business.

      What I am more than happy to do for you and anyone else reading this is let you know the exact branch numbers that are set up and confirmed feeding to us on a monthly basis. That way you have certainty.

       

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      1. Simon Bradbury

        Thanks Sam,

        Really appreciate your engagement…

        So can I confirm that all of the properties that are being displayed on your site are from agents who have actually given specific permission to you guys to advertise them on the site, or is it just the affinity/licensing groups like RAN, GUILD, F&C who have given that permission on behalf of their members ?

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        1. SamH

          Hi Simon, I can’t code so it’s pretty much all I am good for. It’s the latter and their agents are able to opt out if they so choose.

          Report
        2. Honest_Bloke_78

          Thanks Sam. Just to confirm you suggest that LSL, Knight Frank, Leaders Romans and Savills gave their permission to list their properties on your website? Did RAN / FIA provide permission to list their members listing on your website without the express permission from their members?
          Please provide a clear response. RegisteringInterest and sign up to a portal are two different things!

          Report
          1. Property Pundit

            Is this Honest_Bloke78 or Simon Bradbury or are you the same person? I’m confused!

            Report
    2. smile please

      Honest Bloke,
       
      The team at HS have been transparent from what i have seen all the way through. You just need to log on and watch a webinar or see a facebook video from Sam to know these are genuine guys. 
       
      Even if it does not work, whats the problem? its free to list, If you see value you can pay for the pro setup. 
       
      Not sure how much you are on social media but these boys are getting serious traction on the estate agents forums.
       
      If you dont like it, dont worry about it. I can only see a negative if you have an investment or interest in a current portal. 
       
      If you are an agent, try and back this, if not sit back and sees what happens. You might be pleasently surprised.
       

      Report
      1. Honest_Bloke_78

        Smile please 
        It is misleading and frankly disgraceful. How do you trust a company who makes claims like this? We all criticised Purplebricks for misleading customers with their offering. Well here we go another one! 

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        1. smile please

          I will give them the benefit of the doubt. 
           
          I know i am usually one of the most vocal critics on here so will bow out gracefully. Hope we are not let down.

          Report
          1. Honest_Bloke_78

            now this makes no sense. you ignore facts. Are you paid to post?

            Report
            1. Property Pundit

              What about you Simon?

              Report
  5. Passionate4Property

    Guys&Girls lets be real here – 100 days, as the CEO points out in the opening gambit and admits – there is still loads of work to do.

    What innovation have you seen from the other offerings other than kicking the can on pricing and adding no additional functionality whatsoever since lockdown happened

    I think it’s great, and what’s it going to look like in another 100 days? – that’s the scary thought, if they can produce this in the first 100.

    This could be everything we hoped for with OTM, but actually implemented and a show of innovation as apposed to just a rip off of the other sites like Onedome have done

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    1. Commentator91

      Exactly! Well said Passionate4Property! Think what could be achieved in the next 100 days! This is just the FIRST day of launch, so let’s all have some faith and give these guys our support and see where it takes us! Let’s help them to help us!!

      And don’t forget, there is NO CONTRACT.  We are not tied in for a 2 year deal where they’ll skin us alive on price over that period. If we don’t like it we can leave straight away, no problem.

      Seeing how Sam & Giles and their team are operating though, I have complete confidence that they will listen to our concerns and work hard to resolve any issues we might highlight with the website. They seem very open and engaged with the industry – they aren’t barking at us from Ivory Towers!

       

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  6. JJ

    Loved watching the journey, feel like I have been part of it with all the webinars and updates.

    I think it’s a good start, obviously few issues but we never expected a fully operational site on launch (Sam was very clear about that).

    I am hoping enough agents use it so a few of us can walk away from Rightmove in time.

    Bring on the invites.

    Now if Sam could just get me that 26p and my properties uploaded i will be very happy!

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  7. Breckland Agent

    I have been an avid follower and supporter from day one.
    Are there teething problems and logistical issues to circumnavigate over the coming days / weeks? For sure.
     
    But let’s focus on what they are doing here. Providing FREE for LIFE leads to agents whilst charging NOTHING to list your properties there.
     
    Keep up the great work Giles, Sam et al.
     
    In estate agency world (mine at least) today, 1st July, will forever be known as “Homesearch Day”.

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  8. calleb

    Homesearch, I’d be interested to know why some of my instructions are showing in both sales and rentals? We have not signed up or given any permission whatsoever for you to do this!  Presumably, you are scraping our website?? Do we figure in your 10,000 number??

    Report
    1. calleb

      No answer Homesearch???

      Report
  9. iainwhite87

    Not sure why Homesearch have felt the need to mislead estate agents on the numbers of agents agreed to list. Its grossly exaggerated and very disingenuous. 10 calls with various MDs/CEOs whose companies are listed as signed up and not one has signed up to list and 3 hadn’t heard of Homesearch.

    you want to be friends with the agents start with honesty as dishonesty is going to kill any chance of helping them.

    PiE did you check the validity of the  numbers claimed before printing the stories ?

    I appreciate fully I might be considered to have an agenda as I have done consultancy with OneDome but these claims of 10500 Agents signed up to list are simply not true.

     

     

     

    Report
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