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Is cost-cutting OffTheMark for estate agentsAlthough 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

Comments

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    This Easter Bank Holiday weekend will be the test. Spring has sprung, the days are getting longer and people are starting to think about moving home. Those agents that have access to both Rightmove & Zoopla will be more active than those limited to just one.

    • 23 March 2015 09:03 AM
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    I am deeply embarrassed by some of the nonsense comments here Colin.

    Well done you for stating your position so clearly. There are plenty of us who have been quietly warning about the problems surrounding Agents Mutual, but not many who are prepared to speak up.

    • 19 March 2015 08:46 AM
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    So what Mr Shairpe is basically saying is that because the vendors want both Zoopla and RM, they should have them. Never mind the atrocious and ever increasing fees, never mind the poor quality leads from Z, never mind the fact that online agency is growing from the womb of these 2 portals, never mind the fact that the estate agency industry should have pulled together long ago to create their own portal.

    It seems that people like CS are so busy meeting their vendors every demand and 'doing the right thing' that they have forgotten that part of their job is to help the industry grow and progress. Put any spin on it you want OTM haters, you have chosen not to join this new site so you can poach the clients of those who were brave and sensible enough to join.

    • 18 March 2015 11:34 AM
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    " market in every way I think effective, so Im 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"

    Mr Shairp sounds like a middle manager that I used to employ who kept coming back to me every other week asking for more money to spend on marketing.

    • 14 March 2015 13:00 PM
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    Yawn.......

    • 14 March 2015 12:58 PM
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    Mr Laird has inadvertently put his head above the parapet and at the same time left him and his company wide open.

    To all good people of Hampshire time to capitalize on Mr Lairds mistake. His already said that the leading agents have signed up so how many instructions will his company now lose when the consumer sees a handful of listings/agents on Zoopla.

    Time to really put the foot in to those handful of agents who have foolishly signed long term contracts to zoopla.

    • 14 March 2015 12:00 PM
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    "As far as Im 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."....

    If this is the case then what stupid business sense being shown by Mr Laird, the smart thing to do would be too keep quiet and keep reaping the rewards instead of trying to put people off of signing up!

    So what's the real reason for him gobbing off, perhaps his tied himself into a long term contract to Zoopla and hopes/prays that OTM fails! Come on Mr Laird why not be honest

    • 14 March 2015 10:39 AM
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    What a load of a baloney!

    Liar liar pants on fire!

    • 14 March 2015 10:27 AM
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    Perhaps the cost cutting is also resulting in fee earning reductions for rivals, too. That, to me, seems like speculating to stagnate and I cant afford that luxury.

    • 14 March 2015 09:53 AM
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    Quite rare to get some balanced but skeptical commentary against OTM.

    We, like others have chosen to stay away and it helping us do better than last year (although not massively so).

    The thing I worry about most is the damage that is being done to the reputation of agents in this process. unfortunately many of the conversations about OTM end up with the customer commenting 'typical estate agents' or similar, which hurts all of us.

    • 13 March 2015 17:40 PM
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