Although it has died down somewhat of late, the debate continues about the portal wars - should we be OnTheMarket (OTM) or is it OffTheMark
As far as I'm concerned, Zoopla is the right move for me, along with Rightmove of course. Why Because other agents switching to OTM have brought me good business.
One of the beauties of Zoopla is that people who use its valuations system can then contact you direct when they want to sell. So far this year I've had 16 clients arrive this way.
In my neck of the woods, southern Hampshire, many vendors who use my Fine and Country branches are people who commute to London or who regularly visit the capital and it seems the market there is very Zoopla-centric.
Not long into the New Year, I had a valuation request from the client of another agency that had taken the OTM route and abandoned Zoopla. She wasn't impressed, I gained the instruction, and we've just sold her house for £1.2 million.
It's not a standalone thing, either. Since the start of the year I've had 16 referrals via Zoopla and I've noticed a marked increase in instructions to sell homes above £1 million, so I reckon OTM is good for me.
I was at an estate agency conference the week before last where I was approached about my absence from the new portal and informed that I was wrong because all agents should be pulling together.
I agree. We should, as long as we don't pull in the wrong direction. Cutting our costs by joining a portal that lacked the confidence to openly compete with more than one other and which meant eschewing business methods I know work for me would have gone against the grain. It would also have meant that I wasn't serving my clients to what I considered to be the best of my ability. Others may wish to make a different choice.
I like selling houses and it's an expensive business to be in. I market in every way I think effective, so I'm still in the newspapers, a medium many rivals seem to have abandoned, and on a wide variety of portals besides the obvious big two.
Agency is not so much about cutting costs, more about controlling costs and making sure your budget is used effectively. I think I do. Remember the old saying about you have to speculate to accumulate It seems to fit the ethos of agency beautifully. After all, many of us market properties that never earn us a fee because the nature of the business means you can't sell everything. But we speculate sensibly and our fees cover our costs and, hopefully, bring a good return.
Worrying about making a marginal economy measure through using a portal that costs less in cash terms is not for me. Perhaps the cost cutting is also resulting in fee earning reductions for rivals, too. That, to me, seems like speculating to stagnate and I can't afford that luxury.
*Colin Shairp is Director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire