By Ruth Doris
With house prices continuing to rise and predictions of a 20% surge in 2018, the property market is showing no signs of a slowdown.
Latest figures reveal that a three-bedroom semi-detached house now costs an average of €229,000 nationwide, with sellers forking out a hefty fee to estate agencies.
Irish start-up Moove wants to disrupt the market and give buyers and sellers more choice and control during the sale process.
Its hybrid online model, based on Purplebricks in the UK, offers substantial savings for sellers of up to €7,200 on a typical agent’s fee.
According to founder David Madden, Moove provides the same services as a traditional estate agent for a flat fee of €1,800 including Vat. The usual ‘for sale’ signs, brochures, bidding, and negotiation offers are all included.
“We guide the process right to completion with solicitors and conveyancing,” he says.
Starting out as an estate agent at age 17, Mr Madden worked for his parents’ business selling property in Spain before moving to London when the Irish property market crashed.
While in the UK, he noticed that the hybrid/online estate agent model, pioneered by Purplebricks, was beginning to gain traction.
Where Moove differentiates itself from the traditional estate agency model is on price and technology, he says.
Buyers and sellers can log onto the platform and communicate with each other even after office hours.
“For example, buyers can view property for sale on a bank-holiday Monday, send a message to the owner to say they’d like to view a property, and, after viewing, put in an offer.
“We could come into the office on Tuesday morning with a sale agreed. There’s no other estate agent who can do that.”
Mr Madden points out that a buyer needs to view a property before making an offer, so sellers aren’t bombarded with “silly offers”.
The flat fee of €1,800 does not include showing the property, which will be the responsibility of the vendor. However, if the seller isn’t comfortable with viewings, they can avail of a slightly more expensive €2,500 package, which includes viewings.
The potential savings of using Moove instead of a traditional estate agent are considerable, according to Mr Madden.
“We just sold a property in Sutton and saved the owner €9,500. With that amount of money you could buy a new car or put in a new kitchen.”
Moove’s biggest challenge is to convince the public that there is an alternative to paying “thousands and thousands of euro in commissions”, says Mr Madden.
He admits the company has lost potential listings because of a perception that “it’s too good to be true”.
Mr Madden explains that his revenue model works because overheads are cut to a minimum.
“The reason we can do the €1,800 package so low is because we don’t have to be physically at the property for viewings.
“We can still make a fairly decent profit. It just goes to show the sheer profit margins being made on property transactions.”
Launching in August 2017, Moove raised €40,000 on the Irish Investment Network, which allowed the company to pay for public relations and advertising and “iron out a few cobwebs” on the website.
The company has had six sales so far and currently has 26 listings, ranging from Killarney in Kerry to Malin Head in Donegal.
Moove is currently completing a second round of fundraising on Crowdcube with a target of €200,000.
That is earmarked for expansion and advertising costs.
Mr Madden says he’s confident it will hit that target in the next two to three weeks.
Next up for Moove is an app launching in May that works seamlessly with the back end of the website — Mr Madden explains that 60% of the company’s traffic is on mobile.
The focus for Moove is on residential sales in Dublin for the moment, with plans to expand to Cork and Limerick.
The target is to get up to 400 properties listed by the end of 2018 and complete another, larger, round of fundraising next year, with a target of €2.5m-€3m.