Having left his previous company under unceremonious circumstances, Rayhan Rafiq-Omar, who founded Unmortgage, is launching his next proptech venture.
Called Free.co.uk, the startup wants to eradicate listing fees when selling your house, as well as streamlining other parts of the house-selling process. Instead of charging for a listing on Rightmove, it hopes to make money in commissions if you also let the company find you a suitable mortgage.
Prospective house buyers can also use Free.co.uk as a mortgage broker, with the free listings and accompanying user journey acting as a funnel for third-party mortgage commissions.
“I’ve been thinking about this for three years now, but was running Unmortgage. So on leaving Unmortgage, I knew this is what was next,” Rafiq-Omar tells me. “Even thinking of selling your home is painful; there’s just so much friction. And the thought of spending all that money is debilitating.”
To remedy this, Free.co.uk removes “the BS and the fees,” according to its founder, and promises to enable you to get your home listed “in just 5 minutes, from your phone [and] for free.”
Targeting do-it-yourself house sellers, Free.co.uk has online real estate agencies, such as Purplebricks, in its sights rather than offline agencies that charge for and specialise in handholding for sellers that require it. Presuming there are enough of these types of sellers — likely those that have already gone through the house-selling process at least once before — that feels like a quite smart strategy, essentially picking off the most profitable portion of an online estate agent’s customer base.
Explains Rafiq-Omar: “We aren’t competing with high street agents — they exist to hold people’s hands, which many people feel they need to sell their home. [But] for those who know their home, its value and the local area better than any ‘local property expert,’ Free.co.uk gives them a new choice to be in control. Purplebricks is the main/only competition.”
Meanwhile, with the U.K. treasury announcing a stamp duty tax cut to help stimulate the housing market amidst the coronavirus crisis — saving buyers up to £15,000 — Free.co.uk has brought its launch forward by a month.
“We’ve worked really hard to put simple tech in the palm of your hand: listing a home, scheduling viewings, getting a mortgage. All of these are now so simple, you’ll wonder why no one did this before,” adds the Free.co.uk founder.