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Can Prop-Tech Firm, With A £1m Raise Courtesy Of 500 Startups, Disrupt The £3.5bn Estate Agent Sector?

Discussion with a real estate agent at the office

Would you rather sell your property through a hipster style tech platform, paying £400 in fees, or an estate agent, paying £5k?

Property-Tech firm Settled celebrated the completion of a £1m seed round a fortnight ago, led by Silicon Valley based 500 Startups, whose founder Dave McClure knows a thing or two about seriously disruptive start-ups, having served as Marketing Director at Paypal.

Far from resting on their laurels, Settled say they will be using the funding to expand their operations and have their sights set on taking a serious chunk of the UK £3.5bn Estate Agency market for themselves.

The firm prides itself on being a pure-tech company, one that does not rely on so-called “expert middlemen”, preferring instead to place buyers and sellers in direct contact, thereby eliminating the expensive fees that buyers and sellers are forced to pay just to get what seems like a straightforward deal done.

Instead, Settled charge a one-off fee of just £399, saving their customers, they say, an average amount of £5,000 over the course of the transaction.

Settled also say they are currently the only online service to have taken such a radical step, and by doing so are forcing the UK Property Sales market to move into the 21st Century.

“Settled is the only service that removes this dependency on real estate agents – and the need to pay their fees. We’re offering owners complete transparency and empowering them to both list and sell their property quicker than bricks and mortar agents”, says Settled’s CEO and co-founder Gemma Young.

“Across our portfolio we see property tech companies making big waves,” adds 500 Startups Partner Matthew Lerner. “And residential real estate in the UK presents a great un-tapped opportunity for great start-ups. We are looking forward to watching Settled continue to grow.”

Since launching earlier this year, Settled report that they have assisted customers on the sale of more than £50m worth of property, and will use the funding to expand their “revolutionary” service to as wide a user-base as possible.

Young also points out that “interestingly the existing hybrid services or online agencies are overwhelmingly run by ex-estate agents”, and emphasises the point that the requirement to part with one’s hard earned cash by paying large fees to “experts”, is a myth that needs to be dispelled.

Settled works by allowing users to register their property, and to state which three features they love the most about their property.

Settled then arranges a professional photographer, delivery of a “For Sale” sign, and the creation of floor plans, which, together with an energy certificate, are uploaded alongside the listing.

The sellers choose an asking price, with guidance as to an upper or lower limit provided by Settled on request, and the property is subsequently listed across more than 500 sites, including Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location.

Settled then registers and vets potential buyers, arranges viewings, and shares feedback with the sellers. The firm continues to support the sellers right through to completion, offering 24/7 support.

Settled’s two co-founders, Paul and Gemma Young, are a brother and sister team whose previous experience encompasses both the technology and property industries.

500 Startups, who currently have a reported $250m in AUM, has invested in more than 1,500 start-ups since the firm was founded in 2010.

Ambitious, disruptive, and prepared to defy accepted wisdom, it looks like the two companies were made for one another. All industry watching eyes will be looking out to see how much of that £350bn market they can grab.

Can it really be true that all we were paying “experts” for was peace of mind?


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