27 Jan What you should know about the new property portal – onthemarket.com
This week sees the launch of a brand new property portal or search service called onthemarket.com, showcasing properties to buy or rent in the UK.
The site was founded by a group of leading agents calling themselves Agents’ Mutual to rival the duopoly of the two property search giants Rightmove and Zoopla.
“The website is a chance for agents to control costs in the face of escalating Rightmove.co.uk and Zoopla.co.uk fees,” according to a press statement by Agents’ Mutual. “Open only to full-service, office-based estate and lettings agents.” So far, it has signed up 4,000 offices.”
What is the criticism of the new site?
What makes the new portal problematic for many agents – is that those signing up to onthemarket.com are only allowed to use one other portal for advertising properties, in other words, either Rightmove.co.uk or Zoopla.co.uk, not both. Furthermore, the site will not feature any properties advertised by online only estate agents, such as emoov.co.uk, or Tepilo.com.
This requirement has so incensed online portal, emoov.co.uk, that is has written a formal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), calling the 10 agents who run the new portal an “illegal cartel”. Another online estate agent, Sellmyhome.co.uk, recently released an open letter to vendors warning them that the launch may adversely affect the sale price of their property.
The main concern is that the new site’s insistence on limiting members to one additional portal only could potentially halve the amount of marketing space for a property, which could in turn affect the speed of the sale and getting the right price.
So, what does all this mean for you?
In practice it means that if you want to sell your home, you will have to work harder. You now have to be much more savvy about marketing and ask your estate agent to clarify which portals your home will be advertised on and how much traffic it is likely to get.
Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, commented in the media on the new portal: “Sadly, the creation of OntheMarket.com is all about protecting estate agents’ market share and profits and nothing about helping homeowners get a better deal. OnTheMarket also won’t allow low-cost, online agents to advertise which rules out a complete market of affordable options for selling your home. We are very against this practice and think it is anti-competitive.”
What do we think at Place Estate Agents?
We’ve always believed that we have the balance right between online and traditional agents. We don’t have a shop front, (because we don’t need one) but we perform the same tasks as a traditional high street agent and more. We are available 7 days a week, with longer office hours, and we have our finger on the property pulse of the local areas – just as you’d expect from a local agent. But because we don’t have an expensive high street property to maintain, we can offer very competitive prices. We’re a “hybrid” agency: offering all the benefits of a high street agent with all the efficiency of being online.
Hybrid agencies like us are allowed to advertise on the new portal, but for the moment we won’t because it is not well-known enough and we want our clients’ properties to have the best possible exposure.
Our initial reaction to onthemarket.com is that it will harm vendors in the short term, because we believe clients will miss out on potential viewing by dropping one of the major portals.
In priniciple, of course as estate agents our blood is boiling about the exorbitant fees charged by the big portals and we hope onthemarket.com works, but we’re not prepared to lose out on the millions of potential buyers for our clients’ homes on the big sites just yet.
We will watch with interest the launch of the website and how it fares over the next few months and report back.
In the meantime give us a call on 01494 873663 if you want to find out more about how best to market your home with your local “hybrid” estate agent in Chalfont St Peter, Chalfont St Giles, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield and Rickmansworth.