A new property portal launched on Monday called Onthemarket.com, not heard of it? - I thought so!
Who is behind it?
This has been established by a number of traditional estate agents that seem to be concerned by the fees Rightmove and Zoopla charge, but more interestingly they are trying to protect their business models by operating an anti-competitive policy by banning value for money agents, such as housenetwork.co.uk.
Why are they worried by Rightmove's fee?
In 1983 the average price for a house was approximately £40k and this month the Land Registry state it is £177k. That is roughly a 450% increase. As most local agents charge a %, they now get far more money per transaction and have not significantly reduced their commission rates. In addition, finding a buyer has now become much easier as the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla have centralised the buying market. Long gone are the days where an agent had to earn their money by trawling through their magical book of buyers. As a result they get more money, for less work and simply want to get more!
Online agents banned
Onthemarket's policy to ban all online estate agents also smacks of desperate measures. Firstly it is against fair trade rules and regulations, and secondly they have not set out terms and conditions that define who actually is an online estate agent. In this day and age a local agent advertises online, so how come they are not banned? - if they are saying this is a service related policy then we tend to agree that to be an active ''estate agent'' you must adhere to certain strict conditions, but it cannot be linked to whether you possess a high street premises, as that is not service related. They should be more concerned with the service and support the seller and buyer will receive from their member agents!
Losing buyers with an agent that is listing with Onthemarket.com
In addition, they have also adopted a strict policy to ensure that any agent that lists with them can only list with one other portal, meaning that either Rightmove / Zoopla has to be dropped. Considering that Rightmove and Zoopla are powerhouses in the portal market and have spent over £100 million in marketing and continue to do so, any client that instructs an agent who lists with Onthemarket.com will be driving less buyers to their adverts and therefore not delivering the same buyers as an Online Estate Agent. In fact we estimate that as a seller you will be losing between 40-50% of enquiries.
As a business we evaluate every portal that we list with and we do so by looking at the number of viewings they create. Over the last 12 months these are the results:-
Rightmove = 29,976
Zoopla = 7,582
As you can see Zoopla are still significantly below the success of Rightmove. Zoopla have been established for 8 years and have spent £100m+. With an estimated marketing budget of £10m and only 20% of estate agents listing with Onthemarket, the numbers do not stack up and any agent that is dropping either Rightmove or Zoopla is simply doing so to save money, it cannot be driving the same enquiries as Zoopla when it has just launched. They need to raise more than £90m and even so it will take years to catch Zoopla.
Would we list with them?
For the record Housenetwork.co.uk would not list with Onthemarket.com with the ''one other'' portal policy in place as it would reduce the number of sales we would achieve and would affect our customers.
If you are considering selling, our advice is to check whether the estate agent is listing with Onthemarket and if they are, they should either reduce their fee to cover the lack of buying traffic, or you should speak to an agent that is on Rightmove AND Zoopla, like us!