'I promised to give it £1bn of mortgage business a year in return.It was a risky strategy, but Philip trusted me and, despite what others at Nationwide feared, I was a man of my word and the deal brought the mutual rich rewards.' Hill was one of the first innovators of cross-selling - a key ingredient to Countrywide's success.He stepped down after that and became non-executive chairman until 2009.A friend from the past will be a non-executive director of the In-Deed board, former Nationwide chief executive Philip Williamson.'The only thing wrong is the brand did not go far enough,' he says. Perhaps we could have set up a dating service Rightdating - maybe a funeral service Rightfunerals.I suggested the ideas, but no one took me seriously.' The In-Deed website has no links with Rightmove or Countrywide, but has support from venture capital group 3i, which backed him in his failed £971 million management buyout of Countrywide in early 2007.Hill purchased the building society's estate agency arm for a nominal £1 in 1994.
Two years ago he stood down as chairman of estate agency giant Countrywide and settled into retirement in his 17th Century pile in rural Essex.
By the age of 20 he had made £200,000 and moved to East Anglia to become a partner in an estate agency.
The business was later snapped up by Mann & Co and then banking giant Hambros.
'It was lots of fun being outdoors counting sheep in the Pennines and holding tape measures,' he says.
Seeking more adventure - and money - he moved to Whitby, North Yorkshire, and started buying Victorian terraced houses, doing them up and selling them for £500 profit a time.
Along the way the firm gobbled up chains including the estate agency arms of Bradford & Bingley and Friends Provident.