Metro - 16 January 2015
A new portal – Onthemarket.com
By Jo Eccles
On January 26th a new property portal called OnTheMarket.com is being launched. It has been created by a number of leading estate agents who have come together in a bid to challenge the current market leading portals, namely Rightmove and Zoopla.
The agents who are behind the move include Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker and Douglas & Gordon. According to these agents, the cost of advertising on these portals has spiralled in recent years as they have such market dominance, they can essentially ‘name their price’. In response, the estate agents have set up a not-for-profit organisation called Agents’ Mutual which will own OnTheMarket.com (OTM). Agents’ Mutual will be entirely owned by the estate agents who choose to list on OTM but as part of the agreement, each agent must sign a 5 year commitment agreeing to advertise on only one other portal. The hope is that this will reduce Rightmove and Zoopla’s hold over the agents.
But importantly; what does this all mean for the consumer? Some claim that the only ones to benefit will be the agents as they will reduce their listing fees. There has been no mention of these savings being passed on to the seller through reduced selling agency fees.
There is also criticism that it will make it harder for buyers to search for properties as they will now need to search across all property portals. If the move makes it difficult for buyers to find a seller’s property, that’s not good news for the seller.
However, it should be noted that currently neither Rightmove or Zoopla capture 100% of listings, so any buyer wanting to search the full market would need to search across all portals anyway. OTM will add to the buyer’s research time by adding another portal to scroll through, but it’s not damaging an existing fool proof search option because it doesn’t exist.
Regardless of how this pans out, one major complaint with all portals is that they are often out of date, listing properties for sale which exchanged and completed months ago. In an ideal world for buyer and seller, there would be just one listing site and that would be that, but it’s never going to be an option due to competition rules, so it’ll be interesting to see how this battle pans out, and whether consumers will benefit at all.