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Portal Wars – What does this mean for you?

By Bea Patel, Director of www.shopforanagent.co.uk

This year has seen the biggest shake up in the property industry with the arrival of a new property portal OnTheMarket.com. Dominating estate agent news, the portal launched on the 26th January and was formed by Agents’ Mutual, a not-for-profit organisation consisting of a group of some reputable national estate agents including Savills, Douglas and Gordon, Glentree Estates and more. Tired of paying increasing fees to the existing portals, their aim is to break the dominance of the online property portal duopoly Rightmove and Zoopla. They seek to provide a more focused approach to searching for property, eliminating unnecessary information and advertisements.

Members of OnTheMarket.com consist of full service estate and letting agents that are office-based, and all online estate agents are banned from the site. And OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal rule’ means that member agents’ can only advertise with one of the ‘big’ property portals, so they’ll have to choose between Rightmove or Zoopla who have a combined traffic flow of over 100m hits a month. Agents have also been asked to list properties exclusively with OnTheMarket.com 48 hours before appearing on one of the other leading portals.

Some critics have hit back saying that this is ‘regressive’ and ‘anti-consumer’ – that it can lesson the value of your property and increase the time it takes to sell it.

With nine out of ten property searches taking place online, getting maximum exposure for your property decreases the time it takes to sell or let it. And when you’re choosing an estate or letting agent, their local knowledge, competitive fees, and their ability to drive the highest price are some of the factors at the top of your priority list.

So does choosing an estate agent who advertises your property with OnTheMarket.com and one other major portal affect you? A Sunday Times article points out that “if you sell your home through an OnTheMarket agency, it may drop, say, the well-known Rightmove – which carries about 1.2m homes for sale, and receives 90m hits a month – in favour of the new and largely unheard-of portal.” And with the ban of online estate agents, a viable and affordable alternative to sell your home for less, the new portal could limit the exposure of your property.

It’s fair to say that with any start-up company, driving traffic and increasing consumer awareness takes time. OnTheMarket.com are tackling this with a multi-million pound marketing budget focusing on heavy TV advertising on the main terrestrial and digital channels, press campaigns with national papers including The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and more, advertising in magazines, and local promotional activities where agents feature the OnTheMarket.com logo in their communication and on their window displays.

The property portals provide a service to consumers, and it will be the consumer who’ll decide on the best portal for them, whether you’re searching for, or listing your property. A savvy seller may well decide to appoint more than one agent to benefit from property listings across all three portals, and negotiate a joint agency listing and reduction in fees for the delay of their property being featured on either Rightmove or Zoopla. Yet a shrewd buyer – at least in the immediate future may see the advantage of finding a property to buy through OnTheMarket.com before it hits one of the major portals.

Moving forward, if you’re selling or letting a property, you should consider asking agents the following questions:

  1. Are you a member of OnTheMarket?
  2. Which portals will my property be advertised on and when?
  3. How will the exposure of my property be affected if you advertise through OnTheMarket?
  4. If advertising with OnTheMarket, can you negotiate a reduction in fees to accommodate the delay in my property appearing on Rightmove or Zoopla?
  5. Can I negotiate a joint agency listing?

Food for thought – would it be more difficult to look at three portals instead of two? Or do we want to make our lives easier by finding what we need through one or two platforms? The future of the portals is in your hands. Which one(s) will you be using?

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1 Response

  1. John Smith

    “A savvy seller may well decide to appoint more than one agent to benefit from property listings across all three portals…” I think this point just touches on todays evolving rental market.

    I was recently searching for flat to rent and one stood out from the pack of usual boring pictures of the living room room etc:


    Even though this wasn’t for me, it stood out! In todays market sellers are using original marketing, clever aspirational photos AND online portals, rejecting the traditional estate agent approach of the past.

    Likewise all my searches have involved only online portals, so tenants are clearly doing the same!

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