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Property wars – it's all a bit one sided

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The trade press is brewing an almighty storm in a very, very small teacup at the moment about the “war” between Zoopla and OnTheMarket. One is a nationally recognised brand that enjoys 50 million visits per month to its website, helping buyers find their perfect property quickly and efficiently and the other, well, I’ll try and find something positive to say in the next few hundred words.

Portal Traffic over the Summer

A quick bit of background: OnTheMarket is a new property portal (like Rightmove and Zoopla) that was set up by agents for agents. Even from the very start there was no mention of the consumer! Agents that sign up to OnTheMarket have to stop using either of Rightmove or Zoopla as part of the terms of use of OnTheMarket. This means that they are removing their clients’ properties from either a website with 100 million visits per month or one with 50 million visits per month. OnTheMarket’s website enjoys 5 million visits per month. In the words of the classic Milk Marketing Board advert: who are they? Exactly.

In a recent study it was revealed that 80% of buyers only use one property portal to search for their property. There can’t be any of that 80% that just use OnTheMarket as the new portal still has the lowest number of properties listed out of any of the portals. That includes PrimeLocation which is still the third largest portal above OnTheMarket.

The reason for the storm in the tiny teacup? A number of agents that went with OnTheMarket have recently written open letters to the top boss at OnTheMarket explaining how it has cost them business and is making it harder to sell the properties they do have.

OnTheMarket has come back with some sterling ripostes from other agents, labelling the defections as spin and stressing the need “to have courage in your convictions”. At time of launch OnTheMarket claimed it would be the second largest portal by January 2016. A quick reminder of the number of visits to the site: 5 million per month (Rightmove 100 million, Zoopla 50 million).

If this were a fight, Zoopla and Rightmove would be accused of bullying the little guy. This is the most one sided fight since Anthony Joshua last stepped into the ring. We have two fully developed heavyweights putting the customer first against a small clan of agents standing in the way of progress. To stretch the analogy further, Rightmove and Zoopla have OnTheMarket on the ropes and they haven’t even left their stool.

The reason OnTheMarket will fail is the very reason that it was created: by the agents for the agents. Unfortunately for estate agents, in the 21st century, customers lead the market. They have the power and if OnTheMarket can’t pivot to embrace that then they are doomed to fail.

All of our clients’ properties are advertised on the three biggest portals: Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation

Our open letter when OnTheMarket was launched:

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