Propertyfinder buys Morocco-based Selektimmo

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The list of Moroccan platforms looking to benefit from the online real estate boom is long.

Over a year ago, we wondered if there was enough room for all those players in an overview of this sector. Apparently there isn’t.

Sarouty.ma, the Moroccan arm of MENA’s biggest real estate portalPropertyfinder, has acquired historic property portal Selektimmo for an undisclosed sum.

Selektimmo and Sarouty.ma will remain independent as their positioning is quite different, but a merger is planned at a later date.

“Sarouty.ma offers a service of quality for the real estate promoters, whereas Selektimmo focuses more on real estate agencies. This acquisition will allow us to have in our portfolio two different brands that caters differently to promoters and agencies.” Sarouty.ma founder Ismael Belkhayat said in a statement.

L'équipe de Sarouty.ma et Selektimmo
Sarouty.ma and Selektimmo celebrate their alliance. From left to right: Jihan Hazam, sales director of Sarouty.ma, Philippe Montant, shareholders of Selektimmo, Ismael Belkhayat, general manager of Sarouty.ma, Emmanuelle Boleau and Laurent Boleau, founders of Selektimmo. (Image via Sarouty

No money, slow growth

Launched in 2009, with financial backing from Moroccan HR platformRekrute, Selektimmo has always bet on paying services.

The company focused on satisfying the real estate agencies they worked with, while individuals can use the service for a customized fee.

“We’re not in race for the most listings, we capitalize on the agencies we have and that have been following us for three to four years,” Emmanuelle Boleau, Selektimmo founder and general manager, told Wamda in May 2015.

Selektimmo has been profitable since 2011 partly because of good cost management – the company has only three employees – but couldn’t accelerate its growth and impose itself amongst the newcomers backed by foreign groups like Lamudi, owned by Africa Internet Group, and Avito which is owned by Schibsted Group.

When Belkhayat contacted her to discuss a possible acquisition, she was interested, Boleau told Wamda this week.

“It’s difficult for a Moroccan brand to have the same access to funding as those big groups of the global net,” she said in a statement. “My partners and I took the decision to sell Selektimmo.com to Sarouty.ma because we wanted our brand to prosper.”

Boleau will remain as general manager until the transition is completed.

The market is structuring itself

It’s hard to know whether there is a market leader in Morocco yet, as the positioning of each player is different and it is technically hard for them to estimate the number of actual transactions they enabled.

The only objective data we have access to are page views.

According to this graph from Alexa, Sarouty.ma would be the leader due to its growth in the last months. But those numbers don’t say anything about the real metrics that matters: number of transactions.

Sarouty's page views in 2016 according to alexa.com

According to Sarouty.ma, they enables 20,000 connections between individuals looking for a place and real estate professionals.

Belkhayat believes this won’t be the only acquisition on this sector.

“For me, this series of merger is only the logical step forward for a market that’s too small to host all those services,” he told Wamda over the phone.

He sees only one horizontal player, likely to be Avito, and one vertical which he hopes will be Sarouty.ma.  

“I know there is a law draft on its way, and this profession will end up being structured,” he said.

At Lamudi, Sarouty.ma’s competitor owned by Jumia Group, (formerly Africa Internet Group), they see this acquisition as an important step to clarify the market to clients.  

“Some sites are mainly specialized in new real estate, others in real estate agencies, some on connecting individuals. Each of those segments are competing, and it’s easy for the buyer to be confused. If this acquisition means a clear positioning between the two brands, the market could only win from it,” said Clement Tesconi, director of Jumia House Maroc, the new name for Lamudi in Morocco.

Growing Morocco to expand to Africa

Last January, Propertyfinder raised $20 million from Vostok New Ventures to consolidate its positioning in the MENA region and develop its activities in Africa.

“We realized that Morocco could be used as a hub to attack all the French-speaking markets in Africa,”  Belkhayat told Wamda.

The priority will be on the Sub-Saharan African countries where many of Sarouty.ma’s clients are already growing.  

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