The chief executive of OnTheMarket has hit out at what he calls "detractors" who allege four multi-office agencies have quit the new portal - although he falls short of denying the claim.
Yesterday we reported that eMoov, the online estate agency which has been monitoring major portal activity in recent months, claimed some agencies had departed from OTM and rejoined Zoopla.
The statement from eMoov said that "after the initial rush to join OnTheMarket earlier in the year, their growth appears to be stagnating with little or no increase in membership numbers over the last couple of months" and went on to say: "The reality appears to be setting in for its members as a number of notable names have quit OTM to return to Zoopla, including multi-office agencies like Stirling Ackroyd, Statons, Alex Neil and Cheffins amongst others."
However, Ian Springett, OTM chief executive, issued a brief rebuttal saying: "This is yet another attempt by our detractors to try to deflect attention away from the fact that support for OnTheMarket is continuing to grow and momentum behind our proposition is building."
In a separate rebuttal statement, Springett also hit out at a Barclays bank report suggesting that OTM may lose agent members gradually.
The Barclays review, based on a survey of the three major portals and interviews with estate agents, showed that nine per cent were considering quitting OTM with another 35 per cent saying they would review membership. Some 56 per cent of agents on the new portal said they were committed to OTM for the long term.
About 36 per cent of agents questioned said they have had a drop in leads since joining OnTheMarket while 23 per cent say they have had an increase in leads. But only 34 per cent of OTM agents questioned in the survey say they will definitely return to Zoopla should they leave the new portal.
Springett's reaction to the Barclays analysis has been critical.
"This report is based on a tiny fraction of OnTheMarket's membership, which consists of more than 5,000 offices. Only 48 hours ago, another respected analyst - William Packer from Exane BNP Paribas - published a report stating OnTheMarket had demonstrated "resilience eight months into launch against initial market expectations of a swift demise" and its membership base was "supportive."
Springett says the Barclays report fails to take into account "the commitment and the drive" within the industry for an agent-owned portal to succeed. He insists OTM provides "a credible alternative" to Rightmove and Zoopla.
Although he does not specify any figures, he says OTM has a growing membership, substantial numbers of letters of intent from agents, and consumer traffic rising month on month.
"Increasing numbers of agents tell us that OnTheMarket is the source of an excellent quality of leads and say this is far more important that the volume of leads, many of which can turn out to be of no value. Many agents have also told us they have not felt any adverse impact on their businesses from removing their properties from Zoopla to OnTheMarket" he concludes.