Nicholas Crayson, managing director of Notting Hill-based agency Crayson, has sent Estate Agent Today a copy of a letter he has written to OTM chief executive Ian Springett.
In it Crayson says OnTheMarket’s web traffic levels are “nowhere near acceptable”, produce leads which are “more than disappointing” and “pretty much non-existent” and that the portal has an agency membership “well behind the promises” when it was launched.
“We originally kept Zoopla because with PrimeLocation it was the prominent portal for London buyers” Nicholas Crayson has told EAT.
He says that when most of the high-end agency chains that helped establish Agents’ Mutual dropped Zoopla, he had expected his traffic and leads from it to drop but claims that in fact the quality and volume increased.
Crayson adds that in the six month period that his agency was on both OnTheMarket and Zoopla/PrimeLocation there were just 18 leads from OTM and 197 from ZPG.
He also says the one other portal rule - which he describes as “suicidal” - has led his vendors to demand that they must be on Rightmove, hence his return.
However because he has also kept Zoopla, his agency’s properties have been removed from OnTheMarket. This is despite his firm having a five year contract with the new portal; Crayson says that a year ago his agency paid OTM £2,000 to become a Gold member.
“I’m entirely happy to pay OnTheMarket to advertise my properties but they have been removed. I am told this is because I am now back on both Rightmove and Zoopla - but in my opinion my contract has been breached by OnTheMarket’s failure to perform” he says.
Crayson has now written to OTM requesting that the portal “stop sending me invoices, and credit me for the ones already issued.”
A spokesman for OnTheMarket has said: "We do not comment on contractual relations with members."
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Mr Springett
As you know, following your presentations and sales approach, I signed my business up to Agents Mutual last year.
I was intrigued by the idea of an agent-owned portal. I was seduced by the various promises that you would establish OnTheMarket as a serious player in short order. The most public of these being your commitment to becoming the number two player by January 2016.
Regrettably, my experience with AM was nowhere near what had been insinuated - with some serious shortfalls, including:
- Web traffic to the OTM site was nowhere near acceptable
- Extremely disappointing lead levels which were pretty much non-existent. In fact, in the 6 months we were with OTM, we had 18 leads - many of these of bad quality. This compares with almost 200 leads from Zoopla.
- Membership falling well behind the promises in your presentations
Due to this failure, I decided to revert to my original portal choices, with the aim of retaining OnTheMarket. But because of your restrictive - and in my view suicidal - 'one other portal' rule, you have decided to remove me from your website.
As you are no longer providing me with a service, I consider you to be in material breach of our contract. This I have already indicated to you, yet you continue to send me emails insisting on receiving a payment for a service that you are not providing.
I have a duty to my clients, investors and employees. Listing on OTM - at the expense of having the commercial freedom to list on the major portals - was damaging my business. I had no option but to list again on RightMove, the portal I withdrew from in order to join AM.
I am still prepared to list on OTM, but I will not pay for a service that I am not receiving. Therefore I suggest that you stop sending me invoices, and credit me for the ones already issued. I am aware of other agents in the same situation and will surely join in any action against AM should you try to press this further.
Incidentally, I find it highly ironic that this 'industry owned' portal is now threatening and rounding on small operators who are simply trying to do the best for their business. As a ‘force for good’, should you fail to deliver, you have a duty to step aside and let agents like myself do what we need to do.
I add here that the service that I am receiving from both Zoopla and RightMove is exemplary, putting to shame my experience with yourselves.
To conclude, I suggest that you start to fulfil your vacant promises and cease from attacking agents who are simply endeavouring to keep their businesses afloat.