On January 26th 2015 a new property portal launches. So far it says it has signed up around 4000 estate agency branch office advertisers which is a bit less than 20% of the UK total.
It’s called OnTheMarket.co.uk.
On the face of it, a new property aggregator is a good thing, especially for the estate agency industry because more competition may lead to lower subscription rates and, who knows, the traditional estate agency sector might even pass that on to consumers in lower selling fees eventually. We can live in hope.
But the new portal site is actually a bad thing for home sellers. Very bad in fact. But you won’t hear it’s supporters telling you why, and so I will instead.
The majority of local estate agents publish their property inventory on Rightmove and Zoopla (which includes Prime Location and a host of other titles). Between them they attract approximately 10million unique visitors to their websites each month, a mammoth number of potential buyers.
But when OnTheMarket launches in January it’s old school bosses are insisting on three specific policies that they will dictate to their member agents.
1. Online estate agents, promoters of value for money within the industry, will not be permitted to advertise. Expensive estate agents only.
2. Subscribing agents will NOT be permitted to list on Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. OTM insist that each agent drops either Rightmove or Zoopla. This is a bizarre, overtly protectionist criteria.
3. Data feeds from member agents will be enabled so that clients’ homes appear on the OnTheMarket portal first, many days before each home is published on Rightmove or Zoopla. A competitive advantage for OTM, but rather unhelpful for sellers wanting to achieve maximum advertising exposure as soon as possible.
Evidently if your property is for sale with an agent that chooses to join the new ‘challenger’ portal, albeit that there has not been a huge take-up, then you will most definitely be at a significant disadvantage because your property listing will end up on a site that few buyers visit and at the expense of the usual, prolific representation that the might of Zoopla and Rightmove together will ensure.
The Irony of OnTheMarket.co.uk is that if you are on the market with an agent that is an OnTheMarket agent, you won’t really be ‘on the market’ at all.
Russell Quirk is the Founder and CEO of emoov.co.uk