A new mainstream property portal (OnTheMarket.com) launched Monday is set to challenge market leaders, Rightmove and Zoopla.
The new property sales and lettings website is to be operated on a mutually owned basis by some of the UK’s top estate agents including Knight Frank, Savills, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker and the London firms Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates. Owners of the new portal Agents Mutual Limited claim that more than 4,000 – one in four – agents have signed up and more are being recruited.
The new website, which claims to be 100% agent-owned and agent-controlled, is being seriously promoted at launch with a one million pound advertising campaign. The owners claim that the major agency players in the industry want to see an alternative to paying the high fees demanded by what they claim to be a “virtual duopoly” comprising Rightove and Zoopla.
Each member firm of OnTheMarket.com has an equal interest and voting rights, irrespective of the firm’s size and membership, and membership will be open only to those agents offering full-service office-based estate and letting agencies – on-line only agents will not be eligible for membership.
So far it is claimed over 2,200 firms with over 4,600 offices have signed up giving the new venture over £9M of development funds. New member firms will be offered the opportunity to fix listing fees for 5 years at a much lower level than those being charged by the main competitors Rightmove and Zoopla.
The development has caused consternation within the industry with Rightmove and Zoopla calling the move unfair competition. A spokesperson for Zoopla has been quoted as saying the new development is “a regressive business model trying to stifle innovation”.
Their main worry seems to be that OnTheMarket.com will impose allegedly uncompetitive terms by stopping its member agents from listing properties on more than one other site.
The implication is that thousands of agents will remove their listings from the other websites, and the question everyone will be asking is, which one of the competitors, Rightmove or Zoopla will OnTheMarket members decide to de-list from?