Richard Murray Blog:
About 5 years ago I thought the landscape of property portals in the UK would change significantly. Google were entering the market, Zoopla were doing things differently and their acquisitive approach to mop up a number of portals would see them move firmly into second place behind the mighty Rightmove (what’s new!). The newspaper groups had lost significant revenues to the digitalisation of their once dominant classified advertising medium.
I believed we would see specialised and local portals emerge as strong contenders to the nationally dominant Zoopla and Rightmove. I was wrong on a number of fronts not least my belief that Google would deliver something innovative and consumer focused which would challenge and promote technology advancements within the big two.
We have seen Property Live come and go with a reported £2m+ investment and now Agents Mutual has launched OnTheMarket.com with the budget to do what Property Live could never have achieved. As an owner of a technology company operating in the UK market with a number of clients invested in Agents Mutual my preference is that their portal becomes a huge success and offers a credible alternative to both estate agents and consumers. So far (and unfortunately) my predictions following an Agents Mutual meeting I attended back in 2014 have proved to be correct in that Rightmove will benefit and Zoopla will suffer the exodus.
Ideally the split would have been more even and Rightmove would have felt the impact of this new portal and it’s one other portal rule but I suspect they haven’t or will as things stand. They must be rubbing their hands together in the Rightmove Board Room! OnTheMarket.com’s USP seems to be centred around the exclusive ‘early bird’ advertising of new properties which is a sound strategy and not too difficult to deliver from a technical perspective, we can simply delay the feeds to the other subscribed portals for a set amount of time.
But what about those who are utilising the Rightmove Real Time feed and how can other portal feeds be managed in a better way? For a long time now we have given our clients the control over which properties they wish to upload to which portals. OnTheMarket.com agents can then easily manage the process whist having the flexibility to ensure that if there are exceptions or specific instructions from homeowners to publish on other portals then this can be achieved.
The landscape has indeed changed and I believe this is just the start. What estate agents need is the power to manage their strategy with both flexibility and structure to ensure that they can deliver in line with their portal subscriptions and commitments whilst ensuring they take advantage of all the marketing opportunities open to them and their clients.