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The chief executive and founder of Zoopla says the fate of OnTheMarket, the new portal scheduled to launch today, will ultimately be decided by consumers - and that this will play to the strengths of what he calls Rightmove's and Zoopla's household names.

In an exclusive interview for Estate Agent Today - the first for any industry or consumer publication about the new portal - Alex Chesterman says he is not swayed by the verdict of City analysts, even though most have already dismissed OnTheMarket as a possible flop.

It's interesting to note that more than a dozen analysts have looked at this subject, the future of Rightmove and Zoopla, and they have unanimously reached something of a consensus he says.

The most recent analysis, by Barclays, suggests that investors in Zoopla and Rightmove should hang in there because OnTheMarket will be providing a similar service but with a smaller inventory of properties, supplied by only 4,000 to 5,000 agents.

Barclays says shares in Rightmove look fairly valued and Zoopla extremely inexpensive despite there being a short-term risk with Zoopla as some agents defect to OnTheMarket.

Despite such upbeat analyses by investment experts, Chesterman insists that the success of Agents' Mutual will not be decided because agents of the City have chosen to embrace it...the success will depend on whether consumers will embrace it.

He says his Zoopla Property Group has invested around £100m building household brands, a range of consumer-friendly online products and a significant presence in the market. He is also complimentary about Rightmove's success, arguably even greater.

Life and in particular the digital landscape is very different to when PrimeLocation was set up [in 2001] by many of the same agents that are behind Agents' Mutual. Some 95 per cent of house hunters' property searches begin online today and Zoopla, for example, has high brand awareness in about 80 per cent of households he says.

It will be difficult or perhaps impossible for a new portal with much less funding to challenge such brand recognition, he predicts.

Chesterman also says that when PrimeLocation started - ironically it was then run by Ian Springett, now chief executive of Agents' Mutual - the internet was far less important to the estate agency industry. At that time, restrictive practices like OnTheMarket's controversial only-one-other-portal policy might have worked.

It's far more difficult to do things like that in a mature market. Vendors have shown that they want to see their properties advertised on portals, all portals if possible. Trying to deny them that is like pretending the internet hasn't been invented says Chesterman.

But while the Zoopla chief executive may be predictably confident about his own portal's future, his view on some other developments in the industry may prove more surprising.

When challenged about recent controversies surrounding Houser and Homeboard - two scraper' portals which use web-crawling software to scour the internet, lifting' property details from any source - Chesterman comes out as strongly pro-agent.

I can see why agents object to their property details being taken without their consent. They absolutely should have the choice and should be able to demand such information is not displayed should they wish he says.

Serving clients' interests is what agents have to do and many may not wish to display properties on any website irrespective of what it is like.

However, Chesterman points out that such web-crawling technology is not new - it's been around almost as long as the internet - and he believes concern about it in recent weeks has been driven largely by Agents' Mutual's only-one-other-portal policy.

This has heightened concern over what is displayed where and by whom, says Chesterman, which makes the idea of not listing properties on portals which consumers obviously use and like all the more surprising.

The first half of Alex Chesterman's interview with Estate Agent Today was published last week and is available here.


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    • 26 January 2015 16:52 PM
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    @ Mark Walker your love for OTM is dedication in all aspects of the word. You are a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.

    • 26 January 2015 16:29 PM
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    Graham nails Mr. Chesterman
    When challenged about recent controversies surrounding Houser and Homeboard - two scraper portals which use web-crawling software to scour the internet, lifting property details from any source - Chesterman comes out as strongly pro-agent.

    Very interesting interview; on one hand Mr. chester is saying agents should not have this one portal rule and on the other - he is saying, listing on free portals is no good. Zoopla is under threat by OTM and these free portals. If one of them cracks the code the entire portal outlook will change.

    • 26 January 2015 16:08 PM
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    @West London Wide Boy
    '...If all rightmove and zoopla advertising is removed from windows and literature and replaced with onthemarket.com marketing then the marketing spend on these fancy TV adverts is not required....'.

    Absolutely right! It is what happened when RM was launched and it is the ONLY way that OTM will have a chance of success. It is the only real power that agents have at its disposal and they MUST use it.

    • 26 January 2015 14:56 PM
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    ouch!!! just checked the amount of agents who have left locally.. Zoopla must be hurting.

    Worse case scenario onthemarket.com will be a Number 2 choice fro agents by the end of the year. If all London Agents pull away from rightmove.co.uk of at least 50% from the 32 London Boroughs then that would de-stabilize rightmoce.co.uk -- GAME ON!!!! AGENT POWER --

    If all rightmove and zoopla advertising is removed from windows and literature and replaced with onthemarket.com marketing then the marketing spend on these fancy TV adverts is not required. Remember when Findaproperty.com started and how they promted their site agents promoted the site and thats what can happen with onthemarket.com The amount of estate agent outlets in the UK can dictate where the consumer registers first!!!

    • 26 January 2015 13:57 PM
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    If you are a GSPC member in Scotland you can use GSPC (major portal), Rightmove & On the Market so already breaking the 1 portal rule !!!!!!!!!

    • 26 January 2015 13:39 PM
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    Another scraper by the looks of things, oh dear

    • 26 January 2015 13:23 PM
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    Nice bit of promotion - although you couldn't even spell it right... I think it's called the 'H'omeboard no

    • 26 January 2015 13:17 PM
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    I still think that Houser is some sort of internet hoax that I am not in on, but... We have just been emailed by"www.findahood.com" to tell us that they have listed our properties on their site!!! Loving THEIR disclaimer "You may download, store and use the material for your own personal use and research. You may not republish, retransmit, redistribute or otherwise make the material available to any party or make the same available on any website, online service or bulletin board of your own or of any other party or make the same available in hard copy or in any other media without the website owner's express prior written consent. The website owner's copyright must remain on all reproductions of material taken from this website."

    • 26 January 2015 13:16 PM
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    I checkout out theomeboard and it looks nice. But its only for london.

    • 26 January 2015 12:09 PM
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    A message to OTM...Winter is coming......Yes I have been watching the Game of Thrones box set :)

    • 26 January 2015 11:53 AM
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    and Winkworth!

    • 26 January 2015 11:52 AM
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    Sadly... unfortunately, yes.

    • 26 January 2015 11:47 AM
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    @Daniel Roder: I take it guests don't have a reply button -_- I agree OTM has a clean design and some may like that but I feel clean designs are not suited for property industry.

    @T.Dap: you caught me *hands up*

    • 26 January 2015 11:44 AM
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    So is that it

    Well done to one particular (uh-huh) "journalist" (not with this publication) for championing it from the start. They should give you a medal.

    • 26 January 2015 11:42 AM
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    I still can't even find Houser. Do they actually exist

    • 26 January 2015 11:33 AM
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    • 26 January 2015 11:33 AM
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    Still better. Have you been on Houser's website It's hardly the most functional and there is just far too much content on every page. OTM's website is cleaner, slicker, more user-friendly and more concise. Houser's website has some definite pros, but it's not at the same level as the two big portals or this effort from AM.

    • 26 January 2015 11:18 AM
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    @John Bennet you don't happen to work for Houser do you :D

    • 26 January 2015 11:18 AM
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    @Mark Walker so because RM decided to increase price you will jump on OTM a site that has little to no traffic Good luck competing with your estate agent next door.

    • 26 January 2015 11:18 AM
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    @Dan it's better than Houser I take it you're an agent look at it from a consumers front.

    • 26 January 2015 11:15 AM
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    I don't even need to read this article, the title pretty much says it all; OTM will never win on consumer front they might have built a little bit of justin bieber fangirling type of hype amongst estate agents but its not long till they see what they've done agreeing to 12 months with a business that they haven't even seen run... The site looks like poo the other portal/engine EAT covered couple weeks back - Houser looks much better than this and worse of all, that is free and it actually allows mass uploading. OTM have done nothing different yet they're competing with two billion pound companies. Best of luck anyway.

    • 26 January 2015 11:13 AM
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    JLL also guilty

    • 26 January 2015 11:09 AM
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    Don't many agents' contracts with their dropped portal run till the end of Jan hence the triple-listings

    • 26 January 2015 11:07 AM
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    Hobart Slatrer are another one. There are too many to list! Looks like Agentsmutual isnt enforcing their own rules.......

    Pretty poor start......

    • 26 January 2015 11:03 AM
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    and farrar & Co

    • 26 January 2015 10:56 AM
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    and domus nova

    • 26 January 2015 10:54 AM
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    Cluttons are on all 3 as well.....

    • 26 January 2015 10:53 AM
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    Tut tut. Can't say I'm surprised, though.

    • 26 January 2015 10:46 AM
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    The website looks good. Very slick, modern and clean-looking. Also, from my experience so far, it's very user-friendly, much more so than Houser.

    The TV advert has obviously had some money pumped into it and looks very bespoke as a result. It's a bit cheesy and cliched, but show me a property-related advert that isn't. I was more impressed than I expected to be, let's put it that way.

    • 26 January 2015 10:45 AM
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    I like the website and impressed with the number of properties on there on launch - and as AC says above they must now drive the consumer...!

    • 26 January 2015 10:40 AM
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    What does everyone think of the TV ad/site in general

    • 26 January 2015 10:37 AM
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    It appears that some central London estate agents are already ignoring the one other portal rule.

    Carter Jonas appear Onthemarket, Rightmove and also Zoopla!


    Do as I say, not as I do!

    • 26 January 2015 10:32 AM
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    Yep, the cynic in me agrees with you.

    • 26 January 2015 10:18 AM
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    Our Rightmove annual renewal letter is in. A 7% increase on fees. Remind me what level national inflation is again

    • 26 January 2015 09:00 AM
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    It could be called the Savills and KF portal because every search is dominated by their properties.

    Savills share price gone through the roof. Guess their shareholders as hungry as the portal's shareholders.

    Is there any doubt left about who's really calling the shots here

    • 26 January 2015 05:47 AM
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