SA Home Loans has acquired a 49% stake in online estate agency, PropertyFox – a deal that is seen as a vote of confidence from an established industry player in the sustainability of the digital real estate agent model. PropertyFox has said it will use the cash injection to accelerate growth, develop new tech, ramp up brand awareness and deepen its presence across South Africa’s nine provinces.
According to Kevin Penwarden, CEO of SA Home Loans, the investment was an “excellent fit for both companies”.
“We had been looking for an opportunity to enter the property industry as it is vertically aligned with our industry and PropertyFox resonated strongly with us,” he said. “The business model is compelling and has been proven to be successful elsewhere in the world.
“We believe deeply in their [PropertyFox’s founders Crispin Inglis and Ashley James] ability to grow PropertyFox into a leader in the industry and are really excited to be a part of their story.”
SA Home Loans said PropertyFox is anticipated to become a strong source of leads for the company.
“The investment from SA Home Loans will allow us to ramp up growth in 2018, a critical time for the business,” PropertyFox joint founder and CEO, Inglis, said. “We are looking forward to having two SA Home Loans directors on our board and will benefit hugely from their combined 30 years of experience in banking, marketing and home loans.
“Technology has allowed us to offer clients greater transparency, a far more efficient process and lower commissions than the traditional players.”
The business offers an end-to-end service for buyers and sellers – including all paperwork, valuation and legal support, with sellers only needing to ‘open the door’ and show security-checked prospective buyers their home.
Support of the deal has come from low-commission estate agency, HomeBid, which welcomed the move.
“As South Africa’s largest low-commission estate agency by number of sales per month, we welcome SA Home Loans into the low-commission arena to help break the stranglehold high-commission estate agencies have in the market,” said Neville Berkowitz, founder oh HomeBid.
One industry player (who wished to remain anonymous), however, questioned the decision by SA Home Loans, saying “they (SA Home Loans) are spitting in the eyes of the traditional brands who have helped to establish them (SA Home Loans)”.