Urban.com.au owners create New Home Network after Homeshelf acquisition

Urban.com.au owners create New Home Network after Homeshelf acquisition

Proptech entrepreneurs George Glover (left) and Mike Bird.

Proptech entrepreneurs Mike Bird and George Glover, co-founders of digital marketing agency Social Garden and off-the-plan apartment platform Urban.com.au, have acquired homebuilder comparison site Homeshelf.com.au in their third acquisition in the property space in the past five years.

The move has led to the entrepreneurs to bring together their growing business portfolio under a new parent company known as New Home Network, a group that was valued at $40 million in 2022, as they capitalise on consumer demand for greater clarity in the off-the-plan building sector.

“The challenges consumers face in the off-the-plan apartment and new home builder markets are very different to that of the established residential market and require a focused user experience to address the issues,” says Bird, the CEO of Urban.com – a company that secured a $1 million investment from Carsales.com.au founder Steve Kloss in 2022.

“Apartment developers and home builders are alike in that they’re sophisticated buyers of marketing and advertising products and often the best marketing teams will track their cost to generate a sale down to the dollar.

“We have been successfully helping hundreds of developers reduce their cost of sale of off the plan apartments and now we’re applying a similar approach to support the home builder market.”

Homeshelf.com.au, which was formerly led by co-founder Samara Amadi, profiles more than 1000 home builders across Australia allowing buyers to compare their industry accreditations, completed build quality, floor plans and design options as well as special offers and discounts.

Amadi has not remained with the business following the acquisition, financial details of which have not been disclosed.

Homeshelf is the third acquisition for Glover and Bird in five years following their 2018 purchase of the Urban.melbourne website, which was established in 2013 by Mark Baljak and Alastair Taylor as a property blog and online news portal.

This was backed up in 2021 with the acquisition of real estate news publication Property Observer.

Since then, the entrepreneurs have transformed the Melbourne-focused website into a national platform known as Urban.com.au, which is now said to be the largest dedicated off-the-plan property website in Australia.

“Homeshelf reminds us a lot of Urban.melbourne in the sense that it has really good bones,” Bird tells Business News Australia.

“They have been building their technology in a good way and we found a lot of our customers saying that the majority of their sales would come from Homeshelf.

“Also, through the Social Garden business we work with about two dozen homebuilders and would report on the cost of sale and Homeshelf would often be one of the highest performing channels.”

The most recent valuation the the Urban.com.au and Social Garden businesses was $40 million in 2022 when Kloss invested in Urban.com.au and joined the board. Most of the group’s revenue is generated from the proptech space.

“Through Homeshelf we have been able to leverage the infrastructure we have built in order to have a playbook of things that we know works very well in the developer category.

“There’s a lot of specialty in that space and a lot of problems to solve. So, now we are very focused on taking what we have learned in trying to solve the issues in the apartment market by doing the same in the homebuilder market.”

Among the latest products launched by the New Home Network is Matter Fact, a data product that offers consumer behaviour insights that developers can use to design their projects.

“That’s part of the reason we bought Homeshelf – to get a view on the homebuilder market and help developers build a better product,” says Bird.

“It’s critical for buyers to do thorough research before committing to a new apartment or home build.

“We want to make it easier for diligent buyers to identify and connect with the highest quality builders and developers.

“We enable this research for millions of consumers in the apartment market each year and believe the home builder market requires a similar solution to maintain strong construction quality standards, especially given the aggressive government supply targets of 1.2 million homes over the next five years.”

Bird and Glover kicked off their partnership in 2013 with specialist property marketing agency Social Garden which currently employs a staff of 70. The partners say Social Garden is still growing, along with Urban.com.au.

“Urban.com.au has had four consecutive years of strong revenue growth despite the market tanking,” says Bird.

He adds that the Homeshelf acquisition will not be the last for the New Home Network group.

“We do also have our eyes on other assets in the market,” he says.

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