It’s been just over a fortnight since the new property portal, OnTheMarket.com launched, with the aim of challenging the duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla / Primelocation.
Set up by estate agents, OnTheMarket.com most notably forces estate agents to choose only one of the big players to use alongside it. The aim of this strategy is to ensure online listing costs are kept low across the market, which ultimately promotes the survival of the high street estate agent. Good news there then.
But what does it mean for house-hunters? One word in the initial stages: Confusion!
Unless you’re now looking at all three/four portals, there is a chance that your dream house may slip through the proverbial net. Plus there’s the rise of the online-only estate agents, which are worth keeping an eye on, as they’re not permitted to feature on the new portal.
Then, even if you’ve got online covered, there’s all the properties that savvy house-hunters (with the right human relationships) get tipped off about, that don’t even make it to the cyber world!
According to reports, more than 4000 estate agents have already signed up to OnTheMarket.com, and therefore stopped listing their properties on either Rightmove or Zoopla / Primelocation. In Winchester alone, you can clearly see those who have opted to use the new portal, by the subtle and not-so-subtle target symbols plastered all over the windows.
John Leeson, managing director of Winchester’s Belgarum was keen to sign up to the service as soon as he heard about it.
“It’s got to be good for the market, Rightmove and Zoopla were retaining too much control, but OnTheMarket.com opens up the competition and offers a new platform for customers to search for property. Online presence is certainly important, which is why I wanted Belgarum to be part of it from the start, but we find the most effective method in selling property is from knowing our applicants, our properties and applying traditional estate agency values rather than relying on the portals. We hope that OnTheMarket is a success – it’s too early to predict which way it will go, but there will certainly be interesting times ahead.”
Belgarum have decided to drop Zoopla in favour of Rightmove as the second portal to advertise its properties on, claiming that Winchester has a much greater presence and interaction on Rightmove. After a quick sweep of the online properties, this claim seems to be justified; 245 Winchester properties appear on Rightmove, 105 on OnTheMarket and just 84 on Zoopla / Primelocation.
It seems the local estate agents are embracing the new portal, and we support anything that helps keep good estate agents on the high street. But in our opinion, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a genuine ‘one-stop-shop’ for property. It will be fascinating to see what impact this new player really has on the way buyers and estate agents work.
For ScoutBee, regardless of which player ends up to be more dominant, we will continue to use all the property portals, high street and online estate agents (as well as our finely-tuned noses to the ground!) to ensure we don’t miss out on any opportunities for our clients.