Crevala Ltd was founded in 2013 and its free data aggregation and listing platform, PropertyMutual.com, was launched in January 2014. The platform currently has just under 100,000 UK listings from a majority of free to list members.
As Crevala Ltd is a Mutual, there are no founders, shareholders or investors to “own” the business.
Crevala Ltd t/a PropertyMutual is unique among all UK property portals in being a PropTech business which is a Mutual and limited by guarantee. A mutual exists with the purpose of raising funds from its membership which can then be used to provide common services to all members of the organisation. A mutual is therefore owned by, and run for the benefit of, its members - it has no external shareholders to pay in the form of dividends, and as such does not usually seek to maximise and make large profits or capital gains.
Crevala is only open to membership by UK property professionals. A Crevala member is a director or an individual or organisation paying a membership fee. Each member has equal voting rights (one firm = one member = one vote). Crevala members are bound by a guarantee in the company's articles of association which requires them to pay the company's debts up £1 in the case of liquidation (the guarantee).
Subscribing agent members (with full voting rights) fund, control and run the business. These members report their wishes or concerns to a Regional Representative, who reports to their Regional Board Directors, who instruct the executive directors employed on a five-year contract to run the business.
Andrew Goldthorpe CEO, Neale Stuart-Davies CFO and David Seacombe COO are employed, pro bono, as executive directors to run the business. These three directors currently control voting rights, but these rights will be diluted and can be out voted when at least four Agent Representative Directors are nominated by the agent members. Free members (no voting rights) are being converted to subscribing members (full voting rights), and the Mutual aims to recruit enough subscribing members to ultimately offer whole of market inventory.
To redress the distortion in the Master/Servant relationship between Tech and Agents; and provide a PropTech listing and services platform 100% funded and 100% controlled by agents, for agents.
Corporate portals now reap super profits from the estate agents who built their businesses and are now the master in the relationship, with agents the servant. Discounts are transitory, good intentions are forgotten, agents are locked into contracts, promises are broken, and prices keep going up.
Some CRM suppliers are as bad as the corporate portals, making ludicrous financial demands for both one-off connections and/or monthly fees.
Numerous companies, all of them “limited by shares”, have promised to challenge Rightmove but all have failed. Most challengers, especially “free” portals, are unable to generate sufficient marketing revenue to adequately promote their product to the UK consumer. Those that have gained some momentum have either floated on the stock market (where all the profits go to investors and shareholders) or sold out to private equity giants like Zoopla (where all the profits go to its private investors).
Businesses like Rightmove PLC, Onthemarket PLC, Homesearch, Onedome, etc. must work in the best interests of founders, shareholders, and investors. All the profits from these businesses benefit those entities, not the agents supplying the data. Although some of these businesses induce agents with the promise of equity, just like Rightmove and Zoopla did in the past, in the case of Rightmove PLC and Onthemarket PLC, institutions and members of the public have either total or significant control of shares and voting rights and thus control or have significant influence over setting the Average Revenue Per Advertiser (ARPA) i.e. the agents’ subscription.
Some portals and service providers are touting very seductive but ethically questionable packages. Any restrictions on how a business can conduct its business, and where it can and cannot market should be avoided at all costs. If agents allow themselves to be induced into signing away their liberty, all they are doing is making the tech supplier their master again.
PropertyMutual does not presume to tell agents where they can and cannot list, or how to run their business. We do not lock agents into contacts. We have monthly or annual subscriptions which can be cancelled at any time.
PropertyMutual is the Servant; Agents are our Master.
Data is the new “digital oil”, so portals want to control and monetise agents’ data for their own profit. We believe agent data must never be owned and controlled by a commercial, for profit, third party. If such a business ever gains control over monetising agents’ data, there is an even greater risk that agents will be owned outright and controlled forever.
In contrast, PropertyMutual’s data lake will be overseen by a Board of Trustees to ensure that our members’ data is monetised ethically, responsibly, and solely for the benefit of our members. Agents must never lose sight of the need to redress the master/servant relationship.
We are “not for profit”, so all our services are delivered at the minimum affordable cost. All financial and technological benefits are retained within the Mutual for the sole benefit of its members. Any surplus revenue, which can still be significant, is distributed as directed by our balloted members, either as a member bonus, gifted to charity, diverted to cash reserves, or re-invested in the business.
When subscribing, members must opt into a Charitable Assignment Condition which guarantees that in the event of the business de-mutualising, any profits are distributed to charity. This is a public statement that the business is never for sale and has no concealed IPO strategy.
1. They want your data! What is the new "Digital Oil"? Your data and at the moment too many agents are pumping these opportunists full of digital oil.
2. "Free" portals do not generate enough revenue to fund a marketing budget sufficient to compete with the corporate portals.
3. There is no such thing as a "free lunch" or "free portal". They all have investors and advertisers to cover their costs. Investors always have an exit strategy and will cash out. What then happens to the data supplied by agents?
4. There is zero long term benefit in supporting a business that agents do not own or control and which investors will ultimately sell for profit.
5. Why bother using a worse funded, second rate Zoopla?
There is hidden value in these portals for their investors to exploit.
What is the "hidden value" these non-mutual portals want to own, control and sell? They want to monetise your data, but you won't get any of the financial benefit!
With limited or no accountability to the agents who supply the data, all these portals and CRM businesses control and sell agents' data for their profit, and agents pay them for the privilege or give it to them for free!
A. Agents. Only agents can make the decision to stop giving their data to free and corporate portals; and only agents can start supporting a mutual that they control 100%.
B. The Portals - Rightmove PLC (100% investor controlled); private equity controlled ZPG; and AIM listed Onthemarket PLC (significant institutional control of more than 25% but less than 50%). Any portal with even a single per centage of external shareholder control is not working solely in the best interests of its agent members.
C. Some CRM suppliers. They control agents' data and profit from it whilst erecting barriers to portal competition by charging high subscriptions to export their clients' data on a per portal basis.
D. There are other software providers like 10ninety, Acquaint CRM, EasyMatch that charge agents a single, affordable, multi-portal export subscription. We will add other such providers to this post as we are made aware of them.
We do not believe a “free” portal or any non-mutual challenger can provide the necessary combination of revenue potential to successfully market a new portal to the consumer, as well as the appropriate ethical and legal checks and balances to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. The only way to make UK real estate professionals the Master, and Portals/PropTech the servant, is for agents to emulate what the founders of The Nationwide and NFU Mutual did many years ago and collectively form their own Property Mutual.
If the industry will collectively back PropertyMutual, we can virtually overnight deliver whole of market inventory to the consumer via a realistic, £multimillion marketing budget. When established, we can then look at monetising secondary revenue streams, including our members data, to possibly remove subscriptions altogether.
PropertyMutual is the only challenger that can give agents 100% ownership and 100% of the financial and technological benefits of funding and directing their own listing and PropTech platform.
A. Agents are not profiting from their own data which is being controlled and monetised by unaccountable third parties.
B. Consumers are paid nothing for their data.