Emma Leicester and Iain Hawthorn, founders of London startup Property Buyers Match
Ellen Forster

Emma Leicester, founder of London’s Property Buyers Match: ‘The alternative pathway to home ownership’

Aspiring property owners in London can now join forces to co-purchase property with help from the newly-launched Property Buyers Match, a platform that matches house-hunters in the City based on details including personality, professional situation and financial standing.

Property Buyers Match is the brainchild of Australian-born entrepreneur Emma Leicester, who, after recently turning 30, is more than well-aware of the difficulties facing young professionals in the capital who are looking to buy property: “I faced the same issues facing a lot of other people - how do I get on the property ladder? I turned 30 this year and I have created a life in London.

“I don’t want to live too far out, and it would be great if I could buy with someone who is in a similar situation and want to live in a similar area, not necessarily a romantic partner but someone with similar aspirations. “

Emma, who founded Property Buyers Match with her partner Iain Hawthorn, explained how the website has already been used by different people for different means, “It’s not just for first time buyers anymore. We have people who are divorced who are in search of a new home, we have people looking for a second home or buy-to-let and also professionals who are in the city sporadically throughout the way. Our members are actually dictating how they use our site.”

Emma believes that services like Property Buyers Match are the future for housing in London, as property prices continue to boom in the capital, she said: “This is an alternative pathway to home ownership. Fine years ago, I would never have done internet dating. Three years ago, I never would have thought of renting out my house on holiday owners on a platform like Air BnB, a year ago I didn’t even use the internet to find a dog walker, but this is what we’ve come to - a shared economy, where we have to pull our resources together.

“We’re evolving and coming together to solve problems, whether it’s renting out your home for the weekend, finding someone to walk your dog or even meeting people online - this is definitely the way forward, we’ve had such a positive response during this difficult time for property ownership in London.”

Property Buyers Match is truly a labour of love for Emma, it is free to join and the pair are hoping to make their first match very soon: “We’ve put £35k in so far. Iain and I both work full time so we can keep the website going, the reason why we keep is free is because we feel there are already enough barriers to home ownership and if we can validate this problem and help people find co-buyers then that would be fantastic. By making it free to join, we are able to moderate users efficiently. What I’m looking for is quality of quantity.”

In the next few months, Emma is hoping to get some successful matches. “We’ve got people chatting every day and we want to prove that this is an alternative pathway to buying property We really want to spread the word and encourage people to pull together in this shared economy. We’re holding an event next month to get to know our members a little more, and we want to tap into their journeys to get some first hand feedback so we can can continue to improve the platform and thus continue to grow.”

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