Home Made, the London premium online lettings agency, has raised a further £2 million in funding. The round is led by Athens-based venture capital firm VentureFriends, and follows the proptech startup’s £850,000 “pre-seed” round nine months ago.
Founded in 2016 by Asaf Navot, a former Bain strategy consultant and INSEAD graduate, and Nick Binnington, a former British Army Captain and LBS graduate, Home Made’s proposition is based on the premise that the letting agent model is broken. Specifically, that high-street agents offer average service and charge extortionate fees, while online agents typically charge low fees but offer a worse service as a result.
The company positions itself as the only estate agency in the U.K. that offers a premium service akin to a high-end traditional estate agent, including accompanied property viewings and working until 10 pm at night, on weekends and bank holidays — for a low online fee starting at £948 +VAT. However, competitor Rentify also occupies a more upmarket space, but charges a monthly fee and is fully-managed and provides a ‘rent guarantee’. At the lower end are startups like Open Rent and uPad that operate more of a pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap à la carte model with various services to help you rent out your property.
To that end, Home Made says it plans to use the new funding to expand its offering and further develop its underlying technology, focus on growing its customer base in London “and beyond”. This will include hiring 20-25 new sales and marketing staff in the coming months.
The company’s proprietary online platform allows landlords to manage their properties from marketing to move-in. This includes full control during the marketing phase – landlords can add or remove marketing photos on the portals, write or enhance existing descriptions and change the price – and visibility of progress during tenancy progression.
International expansion has also begin: Home Made recently opened an office in Athens and says it is looking to develop several company functions in the country, including lead generation, tech support, and customer service and support. The startup says it has selected Greece for its first international office primarily due to “the growing Greek startup ecosystem which offers access to high caliber talent with international experience”.
Meanwhile, Home Made recently announced the launch of Sentinel, a tool that detects illegal subletting by tenants via short-let websites such as AirBnB. The idea is to help landlords tackle a growing illegal subletting problem that sees “tenants” rent out properties with no intention of ever ever staying in the property.
This activity commonly violates the terms of a Tenancy Agreement, and may also violate the building lease, local authority regulations, buildings insurance, and mortgage terms. It also withdraws these properties from the market for long-
term tenants, which in turn contributes to rental increases in London.