IAVI goes Dutch on €6m internet venture

23 Aug 2006

A Dutch web property portal company has acquired the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute’s (IAVI) www.realestate.ie website for €1m, siliconrepublic.com has learned. The IAVI stands to earn a further €5m over a 10-year period based on the performance of a joint venture with Dutch property player Funda.

Funda is one of the largest online property players in the Netherlands. According to the company’s Irish CEO Ronan Higgins, the company is planning to compete directly with established Irish property portal Myhome.ie.

Myhome.ie was acquired last month by The Irish Times‘ Ireland.com portal in a deal estimated at up to €50m.

Higgins was speaking with siliconrepublic.com following a sold-out conference held in Dublin yesterday organised by Funda to bring Irish property professionals up to speed on digital technology.

“We believe the Irish property portal market is lacking in competition and by taking on www.realestate.ie we aim to work with IAVI members to put their property listings in a more up-to-date context.”

Over 85pc of property transactions in Ireland are believed to be carried out by IAVI members.

Higgins explained: “Funda paid €1m for the Realestate.ie website as part of a 10-year collaboration agreement. There’s also an additional €5m possible to IAVI based on the performance of Funda Ireland.”

Higgins continued to say that Netherlands-based Funda is currently seeking to expand globally and was attracted to Ireland’s booming property market.

He said the time was right for a fresh approach to selling property online in Ireland. “There’s lots of room to play in terms of market approach and new technologies, particularly in targeting the property market outside of Leinster.”

He continued: “What’s lacking in the Irish online property market is the way that data is presented and made available to the public.

“This requires time and investment. Agents tend to upload a single description of a property, failing to produce something that is database friendly and allows prospective property buyers to narrow their search as much as possible,” Higgins explained.

He said a latent but growing interest by real estate agents in using the internet to sell is being driven by a number of factors, such as the emergence of sale-by-owner sites that cut out the middle man and the prospect of an eventual property slowdown.

“In the US, every real estate agent has a web presence. In Ireland, it is around 50pc. Globally, web-based technology is enabling even the smallest agency to sell in a sophisticated way.

“In Ireland, there is definitely a feeling that there was too much business being done to worry about technology. However, everybody knows the world is cyclical and real estate agents want to have a good understanding of what to do when things slow down. They believe that it will give them an edge.”

Higgins said that the forthcoming www.funda.ie website is planned to go live late September. The company will be basing its Irish operation at the Digital Hub in Dublin.

By John Kennedy