All you wanted to know about Boomin but were afraid to ask
What is Boomin?
Boomin is a new property portal which claims to be the most powerful property site ever and one which will transform the property market for everyone. Boomin was founded by Michael and Kenny Bruce, the founders of Purplebricks. Their ambition is simple, to put the cat amongst the pigeons in the property portal world just as they did with Purplebricks in the world of estate agency. But can Boomin disrupt the property portal market without disrupting estate agents as well?
Powerful New Property Site
Boomin claims to be the most powerful property site ever. This claim that has yet to be tested because the site's launch has been delayed, however, we are sure that Boomin will make a big splash when it does launch and when it has launched these claims will quickly be tested.
Transforming the UK Property Market
Boomin claims that it will transform the property for everyone. Boomin's promotional video says it is a site that will bring about to bring a sense of optimism, positivity, kinetic energy and excitement that is memorable and likeable.
We are not sure how they will bring kinetic energy into the mix unless they are going to specialise in mobile homes or perhaps homes with subsidence. Joking aside the Bruce brothers certainly shook up the estate agency market when they launched Purplebricks and we have no doubt that they will be working hard to challenge Rightmove and Zoopla.
However, it looks as if the site will have more features than portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket notably: Secret Properties, the Sneak Peak and MatchMaker features as well as seeking to become a go-to destination for utilities and a market-place for all purchases related to the home.
Market reaction to Boomin
The Bruce brothers certainly shook up and challenged the high street estate agency market and Purplebricks has overtaken Foxtons as the 'marmite' name in the sector. Having tried to take business from high street estate agents, the Bruce brothers are now seeking to win business from the same high street estate agents.
A survey conducted by Wiggywam in February 2021 revealed that property portals in general (Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket) had a low level of trust and customer satisfaction from agents, and a majority of agencies (55%) saying they will not use the soon-to-launch Boomin.
What are Boomin's Secret properties?
If a property is being valued the agent can list some details of the home on Boomin. There won’t be enough information for homebuyers to be able to identify the exact property – hence a ‘secret property’, but details such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, key features and school catchment areas will be available so that buyers can register an interest should the property come to the market.
In our view, this is a clever way to assess demand and registered interest may well help the homeowner to decide to make the leap to put their home on the market.
Twindig’s Find and Follow feature already offers a similar functionality where homebuyers can follow properties they are interested in the same way one follows people on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
What is Boomin's Sneak peek?
Once a Boomin agent has been instructed the agent may offer a sneak peek at the property, a period of up to 14 days before the property is fully listed on the portals allowing Boomin users early access to the property before it is listed more widely on the other main portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket
In our view, this is similar to OnTheMarket’s new and exclusive where an agent lists new properties exclusively on OnTheMarket for 24 hours before listing on all the other portals.
In both cases, we do not see how this helps the homeowner why if you have decided to sell your home would you choose to limit or restrict the amount of marketing exposure it receives. We can see how this benefits the portal as it creates a captive market and if this captive market reaches a critical mass the portal will be able to monetise agents access to this restrictive marketing service.
What is Boomin MatchMaker?
MatchMaker is a clever idea and is similar to Twindig's Find and Follow feature offered by Twindig. Boomin has created MatchMaker buyers and MatchMaker sellers where buyers and sellers create a sort of property dating profile.
Homebuyers who know where they want to live can create an advert within Boomin to advertise the sort of property they are looking for: location, price range, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, school catchment areas, key features etc. If a home seller wants to meet a MatchMaker buyer then the seller asks their estate agent to introduce them
MatchMaker sellers are homeowners who are thinking of selling and they make an advert about their home to gauge buyer interest. Homebuyers can browse the MatchMaker seller adverts and can contact the seller by contacting the agent chosen by the homeowner.
Twindig already offers a similar property find and follow service. Potential homebuyers can follow any home across the country whether or not they are currently on the market and be notified of changes in the status of that property. Homeowners will be able to see the number of followers they have.
Homeowners can also change the status of their property on the Twindig platform. For instance, they can set their status as thinking of selling to gauge interest and potential buyers are able to see this ‘thinking of selling’ status and can follow that property. With the homeowner’s permission, Twindig would arrange for an agent to facilitate an introduction.
From utility switching to homewares
Boomin will also offer utility switching services, which could be quite a lucrative market if Boomin wins the trust of a critical mass of renters and homeowners. The utility switching market remains under-developed in our view. Inertia is the biggest barrier to switching, therefore perhaps the smart money will be with those that offer second-generation auto-switches, rather than the first generation style of price comparison websites.
Boomin has been clever here and might be building on research by Zoopla which suggests that around 24% of visitors to its site use the platform as a magazine to keep abreast of design changes/trends in kitchens, living spaces, bedrooms, bathrooms and gardens. Boomin is looking to join those dots: if you see something you like in a home listed on Boomin their aspiration is that you will be just a click away from buying that product for your own home. Once again this is a big ambition and we admire Boomin for setting the bar so high.
Can I use Boomin instead of an estate agent?
Boomin's marketing materials say that:
“Our features have been developed to provide visitors to Boomin with the same deeper insights and market activity they receive when they engage with a great Agent”
There are therefore offering similar services as estate agents such as market insights and property listings and allowing buyers and sellers to test the market via their MatchMaker tools.
However, it does not seem that at the moment Boomin is looking to replace the agent. What we find interesting is that Boomin like Purplebricks is offering tools that allow estate agents to effectively outsource many of their traditional tasks to a technology solution. At some point in the future, these lines may become blurred, however, for the time being, Boomin's founder Michael Bruce has said that Boomin “has not, and will not, ever look to move to a direct model.”
Twindig continues to advise all home buyers and home sellers to use an estate agent.
Following the launch on 2 April 2021 agents again questioned whether Boomin's matchmaker was a trojan horse that would eventually cut out the agent.
Boomin Strategic Board
On 24 May 21 Boomin announced that Sarah Edmundson had been appointed as the chair of Boomin's strategic board.
The strategic board aims to be a conduit between Boomin, agents and consumers to increase their participation in the development and strategic direction of Boomin - essentially a mechanism for hearing firsthand what the market wants Boomin to offer.
Joining Sarah on the Strategic Board are Kenny Bruce, Tom Kirk (Chief Product Officer), Andrew Stewart (Chief Operating Officer) and James Kydd (Brand Director). Kenny Bruce, Tom Kirk and James Kydd all held senior roles at Purplebricks before joining Boomin, whereas Andrew Stewart's is joining from Cazoo although his main experience stems from the property portals of Zoopla and PropertyFinder.com
Boomin's big-hitting non-exec board
In April 2021 Boomin appointed Stephen Murphy as its non-executive Chairman. Mr Murphy is a former Chief Executive of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Of his appointment, Mr Murphy said: "I have been really impressed by the DNA of the business and the ambition to deliver truly exceptional experiences for agents and everyone engaged in property. I am excited to be working with the founders and the management team to realise the enormous potential that exists with market leading agents, truly innovative technology and a collective ambition to make a genuine difference".
In May 2021 Boomin appointed the very experienced and highly regarded Richard Pennycook as a non-executive director. Mr Pennycock is a former CEO of the Co-operative Group. He was awarded a CBE in 2020 for services to the retail sector.
Of his appointment Mr Pennycook said: "“I have experienced first-hand the digital retail revolution and how important it is for every industry to adapt and change, to innovate, to break new ground and to engage and communicate with their customers in a number of different ways". There is no doubt that Mr Pennycook is a very strong addition to the team at Boomin.
How much does Boomin cost?
Boomin is free to use for home buyers and home sellers. Boomin will seek to earn referral fees if their end users buy products and services through introductions made through Boomin.com
Boomin will also follow the traditional property portal revenue model of charging estate agents to list their properties and charge them additional amounts for marketing services. According to the fee schedule on Boomin.com on 12 December 2020 fees are fixed and guaranteed for Founder Agents until 1 January 2024. The fees have two components: a Base Fee and a Performance Fee.
What is the Boomin Free Period?
Founder Agents will be able to upload unlimited properties to Boomin.com until 1 January 2022 (although we understand that due to the delay to the launch of Boomin the free period will be for twelve months from the launch date.
What are Boomin Base Fees (Per month)?
Boomin's Base Fees are the basics fees which will be charged to estate agents for listing their properties on Boomin.com after the free period
Sales Only: £300 (London £400)
Sales & Lettings £399 (London £499)
Lettings only £150 (London £250)
Whilst during the free period an unlimited number of properties can be uploaded per branch, the number of proper uploads included in the Base Fee will be subject to a cap from September 2021.
Base fees will increase by a maximum of 5% per year from 1 January 2023, but only if Boomin has generated the agent’s business more revenue than the total base fees and performance fees paid to Boomin in the previous year.
What are Boomin Performance Fees?
Boomin Performance Fees are due on revenue generated from Priorities (removals, utilities, broadband, TV subscriptions etc), Property Playground (homewares, designs, kitchens, bathroom etc) and MatchMaker completions.
Revenue per month Performance fee
£800 or more £150
The Boomin fee schedule we have seen does not comment on how these performance fees may rise and by how much. It looks to us as if the price guarantees only relate to the Base fees. Agents may wish to seek clarification on this before signing up.
However, one thing Michael Bruce is clear about is the trajectory of Boomin fees in the future, he comments: “The future for portals is not one where they can expect to continually raise fees by material amounts year after year”.
What are the Boomin Membership classes?
Boomin Standard – those agents who just send Boomin a normal property portal feed
Boomin Gold – those agents who use the Boomin system, but do not have a CRM Integration with Boomin
Boomin Platinum – those agents with a CRM integration with Boomin are eligible to be a Platinum agent
Lead up to the Boomin launched
The original plan was for a December 2020 launch, but on 11 December 2020, it was announced that the Boomin’s planned December 2020 launch had been delayed until ‘early 2021’. A letter sent from Michael Bruce (Founder and Executive Chairman of Boomin) said that
“Our plans were to launch in December 2020; to create the quality of execution we know is so important to you and us, we have decided that it would be better to publically launch in early 2021. This has the added benefit of giving our people the opportunity to take advantage of the slightly relaxed restrictions by spending precious time with their families.”
This is unusual because Boxing Day is typically one of the busiest traffic days for UK property portals and January is usually a very busy month. You can expect Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket to be spending a lot of marketing dollars from Boxing Day onwards.
There is much speculation as to the cause for the delay ranging from the tech not being ready for launch and running behind schedule to Boomin not having the required number of Founder Agents and property listings to make the launch a success.
On the 5 February 2021 Michael Bruce said that “The time to secure founder agent status and the benefits that brings is fast running out as we enter the final stages of preparation for launch." However, a launch date has yet to be announced, but Boomin is promising a “highly memorable and engaging” media campaign on TV and radio. Boomin's Chief Marketing Officer Phil Lloyd said: “We have brought together more than 12 months of comprehensive national research, planning and creativity to produce an extensive campaign with genuine freshness and excitement.”
On 23rd February 2021 Estate Agent Today reported that Boomin founder Michael Bruce had said “My team and I are here to answer any questions you have. We’re ready to launch.” However, an official launch date has still yet to be announced.
On 26th February 2021 in an open letter Boomin's founder Michael Bruce reiterated that "Boomin will launch shortly, embracing the latest technology to deliver a completely new, more powerful search experience with a host of new features and a broader product offering that looks to build relationships between agents and customers that lasts far beyond the property transaction itself. This will be supported by a marketing budget that will establish Boomin as a household name in near-record time."
Boomin launch date
After a lot of speculation and a lot of talk, it was finally announced that Boomin will be launched on Friday 2 April 2021, which is Good Friday for some and a day after April Fools' Day for others.
The First Bank Holiday of Spring is a logical date as traditionally it is a time when many start DIY projects in earnest, but with lockdown still in full swing many will either choose or be limited to looking at housing rather than kicking off repairs, improvements and renovations and with the extended Stamp Duty Holiday many will be contemplating moving rather than improving.
In the end Boomin launched a beat site one day early on 1 April 2021 - we will pass on the opportunity to make lame jokes. Boomin launched with around 5,000 agents a number similar to the 4,600 agents OnTheMarket had at its launch in January 2015. This means that Boomin has around 25% of the market in terms of agent numbers, so for the time being the other major portals have more homes listed than Boomin, but Boomin has some interesting new features that the other portals do not have and a big marketing budget (£50 million over three years) to get the message out.
At launch, the Boomin platform is completely free for the first year for all agents, with no obligation to continue once the free year is up. The litmus test will be how many agents stay with the platform one year after joining.
Boomin marketing spend
Boomin has pledged to spend £50m on marketing over the next three years in order 'to create a household brand in record time'. With the three years up on April Fool's day 2024, it will be interesting to see who the fools in the portal world will be: the incumbents, the challenger or the estate agent themselves.
The market and advertising campaign will be executed across a range of channels including Radio, Prime Time TV on Channel4, ITV and Sky, plus the usual plethora of social media channels.
Boomin attacks Rightmove
On 26th February 2021 to coincide with the release of Rightmove's 2020 financial results Boomin published an open letter that criticised Rightmove's regular fee increases, the quality of its customer leads and the level of its investment in its platform, infrastructure and user experience. It also claimed that Rightmove pays its two executive directors more than it spends on capex.
In the letter, Mr Bruce comments that "Being very successful and highly profitable is justifiable when you are creating the very best innovation for agents and visitors to the site." Does this suggest that if Boomin is viewed as creating the best innovation for agents and visitors to the site it will seek to be as profitable as Rightmove?
Agents would do well to understand how the spoils of success will be shared. Will Boomin operate on a platform of 'One for all and all for one' or 'One for a few and all for a few'?
Mr Bruce stepped up his war of words against Rightmove on 8 March 2021. When announcing the launch date of Boomin he said 'We are not just trying to build a credible alternative to Rightmove, we are determined to change the centre of gravity, where more of the power is held by the agents and the rewards will be more equally shared.
Boomin ignores OnTheMarket
Boomin appears not to count OnTheMarket, the last significant challenger portal that was created under the Agents Mutual banner of 'by the agents for the agents' as a competitor. Boomin refers to the existing portal landscape as a duopoly (suggesting Rightmove and Zoopla as the major players) rather than an oligopoly.
Specifically, Mr Bruce comment s that “The portal duopoly is one of the biggest financial and structural challenges agents face and together we can create meaningful change and secure a brighter, fairer future. Boomin has amassed a world-class team, 160 strong and growing to achieve its goals.”
Who are the Boomin Founder Agents?
A Founder Agent is any estate agent who lists all of their branches and stock with Boomin on the official launch day. On 8 March 2021 Boomin revealed that it will launch on 2 April 2021 with more than 5,000 estate agency branches, suggesting a market penetration of around 25%. In our view, this is an impressive reach in such a short space of time and highlights the dissatisfaction many agents feel with the current property portal landscape
Any estate agent who joins after the official launch day will pay a different fee structure to the Founder Agents. The Non-founder agent fee structure has yet to be announced.
On 16 October 2020:
The original ten Boomin founding agents were announced on 16 October 2020 as:
Foxtons, Chancellors, Andrews, Century 21, Hunters, McEwan Fraser, Dacre, Son & Hartley, Ryder & Dutton, Miller Metcalfe and Mishon Mackay
On 21 October 2020:
Bidmead Cook, Balgores, Cooper & Tanner, Henry Adams, Jacob Steel, Karl Tatler, Miles & Barr, Michael Jones & Company, Kings Group, as well as Linley & Simpson
On 27 October 2020:
Humberts, Newman Property Experts, Beals, Keatons, Hurford Salvi Carr, MyLondonHome, Venmores, Nock Deighton, Alexander & Co Group, and West Wales Properties
On 10 Nov 2020:
It was announced that The Property Franchise Group had become a Boomin Founding Agent
Property Franchise Group brand portfolio signed to Boomin are Martin & Co, Whitegates, CJ Hole, Ellis & Co, Parkers, and EweMove.
On 17 Nov 2020:
Robinson Jackson, Hunter French Somerset, Bonners & Babingtons, Maslen, JOHNS&CO, Penny Lane Homes, Peter Morgan, Hannells Derby, Xact Homes, and Rolfe East
On 25 Nov 2020:
Carter Jonas, Martyn Gerrard, Urban & Rural, Bond Oxborough Phillips, Hall & Scott, Perry Bishop, Steven Smith, Base Property Specialists, Coopers, Atkinson McCleod, Anthony Pepe, Richard Kendall, Brockenhurst, as well as Scott Sheen and Partners.
On 11 Jan 2021
The first class of 2021 include: Bradleys, Beresfords, Bridges, Seymours, Taylors and Hammond Stratford, Rush Witt & Wilson, Aldreds, Dowen, Andrew Milsom, DJ&P Newland Rennie, Merry Weathers, Redbrik, FirstPort and Richard James.
On 29 Jan 2021
The influential Guild of Property Professionals gave Boomin it's backing. The Guild commented that whilst it gives its “full support to Boomin”, it pointed out that “opinion on Boomin has been divided”, some of the original ten founding agents are members of the Guild.
Before providing its backing, the Guild said that “Members were concerned about two main areas, namely whether the portal was, in the long term, planning to go directly to consumers cutting out the agent, and who owns the data and how Boomin intends to make use of it.”
Boomin has allayed the Guild's fears and concerns surrounding these issues the Guild is recommending that its members sign up to Boomin.
1 Feb 2021
Unfortunately for Boomin, the soon to be merged Connells and Countrywide announced a 5-year partnership deal with Zoopla to be a Zoopla Innovation Partner with early access to new features and services. This suggests to us that the two largest estate agents in the UK will not be signing up to Boomin in the near future. Boomin would have been very keen to win the backing of the UK's two largest agents.
5 Feb 2021
Another batch of 10 founding agents was announced on the 5 February 2021: Fenn Wright, Killens, Watt & Morgan, Hern & Crabtree, Park Row, Butler & Stag Tatlers, Ellisons, Black Katz and Brian Cox.
8 March 2021
As already noted above Boomin expects to launch on 2 April 2021 with more than 5,00 0agency branches, but specifically announced new recruits on the 8 March including Greenslade Taylor Hunt, McCartney, Hackney & Leigh and Edward Mellor.
History of Boomin
Boomin is the trading name of PD Innovations Limited (Company number 12090160) a company incorporated on 8 July 2019 and registered in England and Wales
The first public announcement about Boomin came one year later in July 2020 when Michael Bruce revealed a portal project called ‘Launch B’ and hired Reapit CEO Gary Barker to be its first Chief Executive.
In September 2020 it was announced that Gary Barker would not be taking up the role of CEO at Boomin, the company he left Reapit to join, owing to unforeseen personal family reasons. In February 2021 it was announced that Gary would be joining Connells as CTO to lead the IT development at Connells and aid with the system integration between Connells and Countrywide.
On 16th October 2020 Boomin announced the first ten of its founding estate agents. We list the founding agents as they have been announced in this article.
On 10th March 2021, Neil Cartwright was appointed a Director of PD Innovations Limited. Mr Cartwright was the Chief Financial Officer of Purplebricks until he stepped down due to ill health on 30 June 2017.
Boomin's property portal was launched on 2 April 2021, over the Easter weekend.
on 12 April Sky News reported that Boomin had appointed Stephen Murphy, a 17 year veteran of Virgin Group, as its Chairman.
How is Boomin financed?
The Bruce brothers have considerable financial resources from their previous investment in Purplebricks, the on-line agent they founded, but have since left. We also understand that as at January 2021 Boomin was seeking to raise £20 million from external investors to pay for product development and the launch marketing campaign.
Following Boomin's April 2021 launch Sky News reported that the Boomin was finalising a £25 million fundraising.The article also suggests that the fund raise is based on a post money valuation of £100m which as at 13 April 2021 would be a valuation more than 40% higher than that of challenger portal OnTheMarket's market capitalisation of £70m.
On 14 April 2021 London estate agent Foxtons announced that it had invested in £3m into Boomin, which Foxtons believes demonstrates its commitment to stay at the forefront of property advertising technology.
Other investors in the round include the Mortgage Advice Bureau a national mortgage advisory group and broadcaster Channel4 which we understand has an 'equity for advertising' arrangement with Boomin. These are all big names and it will be interesting to see what influence these bigger names bring to bear on the strategic direction of Boomin.
Boomin accounts 31 December 2020
Boomin filed its accounts for the period ending 31 December 2020 on 6 April 2021. The accounts showed Tangible Fixed assets of £152,159, debtors £138,152 and cash at the bank of £230,393 alongside liabilities falling due within one year of £1,174,437 and due after one year of an additional £1,982,007, which relates to an interest-free loan from a shareholder in the company. Boomin, therefore, had net liabilities of £2,635,740.
Boomin had called up share capital of £432 a share premium account of £4,699,659 and retained earnings of negative £7,335,831.
The accounts were signed by Neil Cartwright, which suggests that the former Purplebricks Chief Financial Officer has taken up the same role at Boomin.
Who are the shareholders of Boomin?
The latest Confirmation Statement dated 8 July 2020 states that:
Kenneth Frederick Charles Bruce holds 40,000 A Ordinary Shares
Michael Patrick Douglas Bruce holds 40,000 A Ordinary Shares
Michael Framcesconi holds 1 A Ordinary Share
David John Shepherd holds 10,000 Ordinary Shares