I’ve heard rumours of yet another new national property portal, this time run by estate agents, starting up in the New Year. What’s going on?

 

 

Q.        I’ve heard rumours of yet another new national property portal, this time run by estate agents, starting up in the New Year. What’s going on?

 

A.           You’re talking about OnTheMarket, a new property website due to launch on January 26th, and aiming to challenge the market-leading position of the two biggest portals, Rightmove and Zoopla. Some 1,900 agencies, with around 4,000 offices, have already registered their interest in OnTheMarket, with a proportion of these having formally committed themselves to advertising their clients’ properties on it.

The background to this move is really all to do with what you might call industry politics. In recent years, many agents have become increasingly resentful of the two main portals, who are seen as having exploited their near-monopoly of the online property market to increase their charges exponentially. This resentment was based on the not-unreasonable view that neither Rightmove nor Zoopla could exist at all without the properties that agents chose to advertise on them.

 

Eventually, a group of agents decided that enough was enough, and hit on the idea of creating a property portal of their own, which would enable them to control their own online marketing costs. This concept has now been rolled out to the entire estate agency community – with the exception of purely online agents. As one of the conditions of joining OnTheMarket, members must commit to dropping at least one of the existing market leaders -- although many agents would like to be in a position to drop both.

What, if anything, does this mean for the general public? Well, not necessarily a very great deal -- other than the obvious fact that from January, house-hunters wanting to research the entire market will have to look on three portals rather than the current two main ones. For sellers, meanwhile, the move has perhaps even less significance. After all, since most agents currently advertise their clients’ properties on both Rightmove and Zoopla, there is already a considerable degree of on-line overkill – so using OnTheMarket rather than one or other of the “big two” shouldn’t materially affect the level of market exposure gained. Besides which, of course, controlling costs is an essential part of running a business.

As always, however, if you do have any concerns one way or the other about OnTheMarket, the best thing to do is ask your estate agent.