Two of the bigger names in online agency are said to have merged – or are drawing up plans to do so.
EYE has been told that our sources are wrong and that no such deal is on the table.
There is no suggestion that Purplebricks, which dominates the industry, is involved. We believe other big names such as Yopa are also not involved. There is also no suggestion, for example, of easyProperty’s involvement.
However, we understand that the deal yesterday signifies the desire of at least one big backer in the online sector to try and get their money back – or at least stem their losses.
While EYE has been given details of the two we believe to be apparently involved, various parties have totally denied any deal.
For example, Tepilo said it knew nothing of any such deal, as did HouseSimple.
House Network also denied any knowledge.
We also tried to contact EstatesDirect, of which Poundland founder Steve Smith was a director, although he appears to have since resigned. EstatesDirect is however still very much operational, according to Companies House.
Russell Quirk, of eMoov, also totally denied being part of any deal. Last night, he said: “I have no interest in a merger, and we’re not for sale.”
One trustworthy industry source, however, was last evening adamant that there has been a deal resulting in a merger.
Another source told us: “Yes, two dead horses have come together. It may be a bigger horse, but that does not result in a live horse.
“However, it is part of the consolidation of the industry and we will doubtless see more of it.”
Backers of online agents have poured enormous amounts into the sector: they include Carphone warehouse founder Sir Charles Dunstone, who has backed HouseSimple to the tune of £15m; and Toscafund, which backed easyProperty to the tune of £14m; while fund manager Neil Woodford is the biggest single shareholder in Purplebricks.