Founder Interview. Sam Zawadzki from Apply.Property

He’s a serial entrepreneur and English Channel swimmer. Now Sam Zawadzki is on a mission to make property transactions simpler with his new product, Apply.Property. Here he talks industry insights, moving into the commercial market and being stung by jellyfish at 6am. 


Hi Sam, thanks very much for taking the time to chat to us. Let’s start with a quick ‘elevator pitch’ for Apply.Property.

Hi, you’re welcome. Apply.Property is a viewing booking and online application tool for agents. It’s like a 24/7 secretary for each agent, that helps get viewers into a property and then chases up offers and feedback. It helps agents manage their leads more effectively, and ensures landlords get the best price for their properties via a transparent online offer system.


So how did the idea come about?

I was working as a freelance digital consultant at the Yellow Pages, but really wanted to get back into doing my own projects full time. My past businesses were in all in the property sector, and when I looked at  industry I thought there was room for simplification. Uber makes it easy for me to book a taxi, I want the same simplicity for booking a viewing & making an offer.


What problems does Apply.Property solve?

I realised that agents are paying a lot of money to portals for leads that they don’t always make the most of. So I want to make sure agents get maximum value from each lead. It’s also about consumer experience, making it easy for this millennial generation that just wants to be able to tap a button on their phone and have a booking confirmed in their diary. And a large part of it for me was also about making every property it’s own mini marketplace. Having done rentals for quite a while in Edinburgh I knew it was a very competitive market, especially in the centre. You’d often have tenants bringing large amounts of money because they wanted to pay a deposit then and there, and people offering to pay more than the advertised price to secure the property. Having an online tool that allows tenants and buyers to offer above the asking price creates a mini marketplace on each property. So if you have two groups of tenants they can compete against each other on price and other factors like ability to pay rent in advance, or move in dates.


So what does the user process look like? 

The potential tenant or buyer sends in a request for a viewing through a portal like Rightmove or Zoopla, then the software will respond instantly with a link to the agent’s online calendar. The viewer can book directly onto that so there’s no need for human involvement there.

Once they’ve seen the property, if the viewer wants to make an offer they can also do this directly through the software, and fill in their offer online.

The agent can see everyone that’s made on offer on the property and compare all the variables like amount offered, move in date, length of lease etc. to help make their decision.

We’re taking away the to and fro via email between a tenant and an agent, making a huge time saving for the agent and making it way more useful for the consumer.

Essentially Apply.Property takes away all those admin tasks that are really important but are not really the core value of an agent, which is the human skill of being able to go into a property and sell it.

One way we pitch it to people is to say – “How much more work would your agent get done if they had a PA taking care of all the diary scheduling, the reminders, the follow up and offer collating?”


How has feedback been so far?

The agents that have used it have been really happy with it and we’ve seen some excellent results. One agent group put 32 properties through the system. Of those properties 73% have gone up in value because of the offer feature, with the average rental increase per property per year of  £1176. That also meant that individual agents made £150 extra each per property. So yes, there have been some really encouraging statistics from the offer feature, and some great feedback that it makes life lots simpler.

One of the key things from the lettings side is that the landlords love to see the applicant report. They think it’s really professional, a value added service and proof that the agent is getting them the best price.


Has anyone made the argument that a tool like this might actually not work in the tenant’s favour, as it’s putting prices up? 

Yes, we have heard that and there are two responses to this. Firstly, we’re very strict on not using the term ‘bidder-auction’ for our service, because bidder-auction means that just the person who pays the most gets the property. In this case people can offer above the asking price, but it’s not a guarantee of getting the property. For example someone might offer way more money for 6 months, but the landlord might prefer someone willing to take a 2-year lease but at a lower monthly rental. So there are lots of variables there.

Secondly, we see the economics of what we’re doing as quite Keynesian. We’re not doing anything that would make the property more or less valuable – we’re not doing anything to the environment like adding an extra bedroom or introducing a new school to the area.  All we’re doing is saying that if there are two groups of people who want to rent a property then the one who can pay the most, or rent for the longest or whatever should be the one that gets it. So we’re filling supply and demand. If anything, my long-term view is that as a landlord, if I get tenants who are willing to consistently pay more than market rental, it shows me I should buy another property and do it up to a nice standard and actually improve the rental stock in that area.


From a marketing perspective the data capture side of things must be really useful too?

Absolutely. There are some really large brands I’ve spoken too and asked the question – ‘if someone enquires for a viewing and you can’t facilitate it, do you remarket to them, or keep them on a database?’ – and it’s just nothing. It’s a black hole. There’s so much more that can be done and we can help facilitate that too.


Have you found any resistance to tech entering the industry? 

There is a real, real mix. I’d say it’s less about peoples’ attitudes to technology and more a resistance to sales. Agents in general continually get people selling stuff to them so when we’ve tried cold calling there can be a lot of resistance to any new technology.  But if we were to get a warm introduction to the same agent and they see all the benefits it brings them it would be a completely different conversation.

In general I would agree that the property industry has been a little bit slow to adopt new technology, but the stuff that’s going on with the major high street brands hybridising and buying online agents to improve their digital offering is really big in the market right now. There was a report this morning that said next year Purple Bricks will have a 10% share in the market which is a huge statistic. So I do think there’s more pressure than ever before for agents to adopt new technologies in order to survive in the market.

I think where financial technologies were 3 or 4 years ago is where property technology is now. People have realised this that this is a trillion pound market, it’s the biggest asset class and there are loads of improvements that can be made.


There are huge opportunities aren’t there?

Yes – it’s quoted to death but one example would be the difference between a taxi company and Uber. The innovations are actually really small – the only difference is that instead of calling a taxi company you tap your phone, and instead of having to have cash it just comes off your card. But that reduction of friction in the transaction – that tiny little process change – just has a huge impact. And it’s what we’re looking to do in our space – so you don’t have to call an agent or download a Word Document, but you can do it all online.


Do you see an opportunity to move this into the commercial property world?

Absolutely – the two fundamental things that we’re doing are firstly making it easier for people to get into the property and then make it easier for them to submit an offer. I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t move into the commercial space. We’ve had conversations with a couple of large commercial agents about this. Once we’ve grown a little bit I’d love to see us make an offer to the commercial space as well.


What adaptations might you have to make to do this?

A key thing for commercial would be slightly better lead scoring. With lettings and sales, there’s a lot of data that’s slightly less relevant, but in commercial I think there’s a lot of key information that can be scored about the leads, for example what kind of timeframe are they looking at. There’s also opportunity to build a profile based on properties they have been interested in the past.


What are your plans for growth over the next few years?

There are two routes. We want to grow this to be a sizeable UK business, which I think will take around 3 years. If we can do this and grow very quickly in the UK we’ll look at internationalising, taking the same services and facilitating that technology abroad. If we go down that path I see it as a 5 – 8 year commitment


Finally – I’ve got to ask about the Channel Swim I saw on your blog – what the hell was that like?

Really really tough. There was a huge amount of training, I was spending three hours in the pool a day, plus a lot of cold training in the sea. But it was a good challenge – and definitely one that I wouldn’t have completed without being part of a team. When you had other people relying on you, you can’t let the team down.


The jellyfish at 6am looked particularly nasty. 

There’s nothing crazier than seeing a cold sea full of jellyfish and thinking ‘I’m going to jump into that’


Thanks a lot Sam. What’s the best way people can follow your progress?

If you’re interested in what we’re doing send me an email to and I will keep you updated on our news. Also do have a look at our website


Comments are closed.