So it’s the second day of 2019, we’ve launched the company, it’s the only thing that I’ve thought about for the last few years and it finally happened, in September last year we went live with our soft launch after nearly 12 months of 5 am starts and long nights. The day we ended for Christmas, we saw the first transaction through the platform — an awesome feeling and a great achievement.
So, why are we doing what we’re doing? Why — we believe that buying your new home should be easy, transparent and fun. That is why I started making my way down this path in the first place.
So, let’s start from the beginning. As a result of my training as an architect, I’ve always had an eye for design and detail, I’m the kind of guy that walks down the street and notices that the detailing on a building is asymmetrical and then proceeds to tell all his friends about it (yep, I’m a riot at parties!). So when I joined Shape Real Estate as Sales and Marketing Director at 24, in hindsight, a role I was massively under-qualified for, my naive, wide-eyed self wanted to make an impression, and an impression I made. Having come from a world of design, I believed that through good story-telling you could sell anything, even £1m+ apartments. I convinced the board that if we doubled the marketing budget, I could create a narrative around the building which would lead them to sell more quickly and therefore recoup the overspend. I did things very differently to normal marketing campaigns — I created the first ‘pop-up’ marketing suite in Piccadilly Circus station, put on a street party and created various guerilla campaigns. We improved sales, but not enough to justify the overspend. The market stagnated and buyers couldn’t have cared less about the story they just wanted to buy a place and get through the process unscathed — I was definitely not the employee of the month.
So, why am I telling you this? I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs look for broken things that matter to people. Holes in the fabric of life that could be patched with ingenuity and a bit of effort to make life easier for everyone. So after the confidence knock I took from the marketing budget escapade, I was back on my feet and back looking for broken things to fix.
One thing I did notice when dealing with all of these property transactions was the fear and confusion in the eyes of the buyers, as they approached such a milestone in their lives. A young couple hand-in-hand walking towards the marketing suite with a smile from ear to ear, only for the happiness to drain from their faces when they are told: “now, you need a conveyancer, an AIP, searches need to be done, enquiries made, exchange contracts and don’t forget insurance, oh, and you have 28 days to get it done, bye!” I realised there that must be a better way.
I spent the next 12 months learning everything I could about the process end-to-end and talking to everyone throughout the supply chain; conveyancers, brokers, agents, surveyors — all to find out what their issues were and to understand the process from their side of the fence. After all, they’re the ones who provide the service, so if they are doing their jobs correctly the buyers should all be happy, right? I asked all of them why only 5% exchange contracts in 28 days and 1 in 3 purchases fall through, the conclusion was unanimous — poor communication. — I’d found my thing to fix.
Buying a new home has been voted the most stressful thing in modern life for the last 10 years. More than bankruptcy or divorce. — Which? consumer survey 2017.
We can buy packages from Amazon and track them journeying around the world, we can hail an uber and track it at every step. So why for the most expensive thing we’ll ever own in our lives is there a complete lack of clarity and control?
That’s where we come in — welcome to Yourkeys. We’re going to get buyers into their new homes and we’re going to make it easy, transparent and fun. We’re going to give buyers and sellers complete clarity of the process by bringing all the stakeholders into one beautifully designed, jargon-free ecosystem — the Yourkeys platform.
We’ll set deadlines and automate tasks, to get all the information at the right time and know what is expected. We’ll also be here to help if you need us 24/7.
We found a problem, set out to solve it and here we are — the journey involved much scrawling on whiteboards, drawing pictures, writing software, meeting solicitors, talking to lenders and, most importantly, listening to the stories of friends and family who’ve been through this journey.
Now, we think we’ve cracked it: a simple, transparent and fun way to buy (or sell) your new home. Which is the point of this blog. As we do this, we are going to communicate with you like a person, because the only way to win your trust is to build a business which puts your interests first.