New property listings website OnTheMarket has launched, promising to challenge dominant players Zoopla and rightmove.
Here's everything you need to know about OnTheMarket and why it has rather ruffled some feathers.
What is OnTheMarket?
The website was founded by Agents’ Mutual, which is made up of established estate agents including Savills, Strutt and Parker, and Knight Frank.
It promises a simple user experience with no third party adverts, no spam email and no online valuation tools. Every property listed on the site will be on the market with a locally-based estate or letting agent.
Unlike Zoopla or Rightmove, it’s endorsed by the National Association of Residential Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents.
Hundreds of agents have already signed up.
OnTheMarket is playing it tough with estate agents. Those who want to list on OnTheMarket can’t list with both rightmove and Zoopla as well: they have to choose between one or the other, massively damaging their online exposure. Between them, Zoopla and rightmove get 100 million hits a month.
[SPOTLIGHT]OnTheMarket has also stated that members should delay listing properties on other sites by 48 hours after they’ve listed on its site.
As well as having tight restrictions on member listings, online estate agents are ‘banned’ from joining OnTheMarket if they don’t provide a full service or operate from an office.
Despite these substantial caveats, agents are still flocking to OnTheMarket. So far 2,200 firms have signed up.
That's perhaps because of its fee structure.
Fees for both rightmove and Zoopla are said to be on the rise, causing a lot of frustration among agents who have to pay a monthly fee.
OnTheMarket allows agents to fix the monthly price they pay for listing properties for five years, giving them more control than either of its main competitors. This is a major boost to the new site’s appeal.
What it means for you
A new site like this could really open up the market if it has a chance to grow.
One significant advantage is its local focus.
However, it could be very restrictive for both buyers and sellers. With less all-round coverage, it can be quite easy to miss out on your perfect property or for a buyer to miss out on your home.
With the banning of online agents, sellers may also find themselves paying excessive fees for in-house services from office-based agents.
Estate agents' self-interest?
Critics argue that OnTheMarket’s model is anti-competitive and anti-buyer, using terms such as “cartel” and “hoi polloi” to describe its founders.
Emoov Chief Executive Russell Quirk said: “[It] is nothing more than an old boys club of backward looking estate agents that clearly have self-interest at heart and not the best interests of their clients."
“It could have a huge impact on the estate agency industry,” argues Hatched.co.uk’s Managing Director Adam Day. “The public is not stupid and will inevitably begin to understand that a large number of agents will not be offering them full coverage on rightmove and Zoopla.”
Day reckons that the property market will suffer when it begins to slow down mid-year, predicting that OnTheMarket will struggle the most as it has less coverage and fewer buyers visiting the site.
Quirk agrees: “I suspect that the consumer will have the last word on this and all will backfire.”
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