The website TheHouseShop says it aims to recruit some 30 per cent of the country’s letting agents by the end of 2019, attracted by its new offer - free listings for rental properties on Facebook’s Marketplace.
OnTheMarket and Zoopla already list on Facebook Marketplace, but agents have to subscribe to those portals to take advantage of the service. On TheHouseShop, the feature will be free for letting agents.
Users browsing Facebook for rental properties will be able to sort listings by search criteria and then contact relevant agents about the properties they're interested in.
As of April 2018, more than 800m people across the globe used Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell things and in the UK, some 30m people access Facebook every day.
TheHouseShop - until 2015 known as The Little House Company - is controversial in the eyes of some because it allows individuals to list, alongside agents and developers. In 2016 it also took over the Accessible Property Register, a website specialising in promoting wheelchair-accessible homes.
Nick Marr, co-founder of TheHouseShop, says the site already lists around 3,000 agents handling lettings and/or sales.
“We feel it shouldn’t be controversial that we list private individuals as well because our research suggests that seven out of 10 individuals who list on TheHouseShop go on to use agents in some capacity, to let out or sell their properties as appropriate. So there’s a mutual interest in listing this way” Marr continues.
Sebastien Goldenberg, the site's other co-founder, says: “We’re really pleased to announce our new integration with Facebook Marketplace as it will bring huge added value to agents listing with TheHouseShop. Estate agents can now list their entire portfolio with us, free of charge, and gain access to a huge audience across our network of partner property sites, our own dedicated audience of tenants, and people searching on Facebook Marketplace.
“With so many people already using Facebook to engage with friends and search for spare rooms or rental properties, it made perfect sense for TheHouseShop to integrate with Facebook Marketplace. We can now offer a seamless experience for the renters searching for property on Facebook Marketplace.
“Our team has done a great job developing TheHouseShop into a truly inclusive, all-in-one platform that works for everyone involved in the property market. Our new integration with Facebook Marketplace will help cement our reputation as the UK’s leading property marketplace.”
TheHouseShop is currently crowdfunding for additional investment, seeking another £500,000 on the Crowdcube website. Its pitch values itself, before any new fund raising, at £10m.
It says it raised £1.75m to launch itself and since then has listed three million properties, and had 800,000 visits in one particular month - January this year.
It describes itself as having a “scalable business model with diverse revenue streams” and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority allowing the direct sale of insurance products.
“We enable landlords, sellers, agents, renters and buyers to co-exist on a secure and trusted platform, providing equal access to free property listings and over 30 smart services. We sit at the centre of every property transaction, helping consumers to transact and gaining valuable insight and market knowledge” the pitch continues.
“We are not an online agent, or a property portal. Instead, we combine our competitors' services onto a single platform. We do not exclude any segment of the market. Instead we encourage choice and facilitate transactions - whether private or professional. We’ve created diverse revenue streams and developed products with the aim of establishing ongoing revenue generation” it goes on.