You can’t stand in the way of progress

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A year ago, OnTheMarket launched and they did it with much fanfare within the industry. It was supposed to be this bold progressive change to the portal industry. Within five minutes of the site going live we could see it brought absolutely nothing new to the market and even worse offered less functionality than Rightmove and Zoopla.

They made one major mistake, they forgot that they need buyers

Even worse than its lack of functionality was its Luddite stance of not allowing online estate agents to advertise their properties. If you are trying to create a property portal you are creating a product for buyers. Portals are there to service buyers, they are there to make house hunting easier.

To most people this seems like a pretty obvious statement. The majority of estate agents believe that because they pay fees to advertise their properties on Rightmove and Zoopla that they are the customers and so these portals are there for them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. What estate agents are paying for is purely advertising space and just because they own the products that they are advertising it means absolutely nothing.

The value of Rightmove and Zoopla is driven by its ability to generate these advertising fees and the only way they can do that is if they can show that using these portals is the best way to sell a property for estate agents. Which means, these two portals are battling for buyers, the lifeblood of their existence. The more buyers that each portal has, the more valuable it is to advertise on the portal as the easier it will be to sell a house.

Now consider that OnTheMarket has put buyers last in its list of priorities. On its launch it shouted from the rooftop that it was a portal built by estate agents, for estate agents. And in that very statement is why it will fail. There is no audit trail stating how long a property has been on the market. There are no details about any price drops and there is less information about the local area. It is a stripped down version of Rightmove and Zoopla and comes with a pretty nasty clause:

Any estate agent that uses OnTheMarket can only use one of Rightmove or Zoopla cutting out huge swathes of their buying market when 60% of buyers use only one of Rightmove or Zoopla.

98% of property searches start online. It’s a cold hard fact and one that high street estate agents hate. Especially when you consider:

  • Their new portal has less than 30% of all the property that is available for sale.
  • It’s buyer visitor levels are 11x smaller than Zoopla and 22x smaller than Rightmove.
  • It has spent the same amount of money on marketing as Rightmove last year.

In a perfect world, buyers would have to search on only one portal and yet a cartel group of estate agents have gathered together and thought that what the market needs is a new portal to further confuse buyers and vendors alike.

This is why:

They don’t like progress. They don’t like change. They don’t like technology threatening their comfortable existence.

Consider this, not a year goes by that estate agency as an industry grows. Each and every year for the last 10 years, there have been more estate agents than there have been ever before. This is despite the fact the number of property sales are actually down 40% form their peak.

There are less houses being sold and more estate agents doing the selling.

The only reason this works is because estate agent fees are rising with house price inflation whilst the costs of advertising have been going because all agents do now is put properties up on Rightmove and Zoopla (or OnTheMarket).

All agents can choose to be on only two portals out of the three:

  • Rightmove (Monthly visits 110m)
  • Zoopla (monthly visits 55m)
  • OnTheMarket (monthly visits 5m)

Our past vendors are more than happy that they are on portals with a combined 165m visits per month! OnTheMarket is an obstacle in the path to progress and just as unwelcome. Thankfully there are plenty of people in this market that believe technology can revolutionise an industry where the incumbents are as popular as traffic wardens.

There is another way.

Progress arrows in estate agency

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