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OnTheMarket adds INEA website to list of 'competing portals'

OnTheMarket has written to a number of members of the Independent Network of Estate Agents, saying they should remove properties from the INEA website to conform with the controversial ‘only one other portal’ rule.

INEA operates a multi-listing business-to-business service for sales and lettings agents allowing them to upload properties to a central pool of listings which can be accessed by members who then operate as ‘sub-agents’.

The agencies contacted by OTM have been told that listing on the INEA website - if they already list on one other major portal in addition to OnTheMarket - is in contravention of the ‘only one other portal rule’. 


An email sent by an OTM spokeswoman to INEA says: “OnTheMarket has decided that the INEA is a competing portal.”

The INEA website refers to “INEA’s Property Portal” on a link, but the association’s chief executive Trevor Mealham says: “The INEA platform is not a true portal and thus should not come under their one other portal rule. INEA is seen as a co-broker, as is common in other countries like the USA, Canada, Germany and Spain.”

He has written to the agents contacted by OTM saying that using his platform to access sub-agents would give greater potential access to leads and greater exposure. “OTM appears very low traffic compared to other main portals” he says.

Because INEA requires three months’ notice from members, listings of the agencies in question will remain in place until the notice period expires, he adds.

“My guess is that the year end is nearing and Agents’ Mutual/OnTheMarket are taking desperate steps, before more agents leave them” says Mealham.

He has been a long-term critic of the new portal and Agents’ Mutual - its parent company - says that in his opinion the only one other portal rule is a restraint that may breach the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

Mealham says he now intends to raise the issue with the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and the Competitions and Markets Authority, regarding what he describes as Agents’ Mutual’s and OnTheMarket’s “colluding restraints” against competition and consumers’ best interests.

  • Simon Shinerock

    It's interesting that OTM has taken so long to prohibit members from listing with INEA. It seems to me that they may be punishing Trevor for being a critic. When Agents Mutual first started drumming up support I criticised the one other portal rule and as a result was banned from attending a meeting to which I had been invited by IS himself. There is a certain whiff of the playground bully in all this

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    "Otm has decided " .. Wonder if they excersized the members right to vote ?

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    I wonder roughly how many agents this is actually going to affect? Perhaps Trevor could enlighten.

  • Trevor Mealham

    Good point Tom. I can confirm that no member agents have contacted us to say INEA was on the agenda to be discussed as an allowed, or banned platform.

    OTM and AM have different directors. As such this action is cartel like as AM rules are being upheld by OTM's board.

    We hope the CMA see fit to now look at clear facts and evidence from us and others to tell AM and OTM what they can do for a change, rather than their attacks at those they see as competitors.

    Fair justice would be to take OTM and AM down and make their directors accountable (BUT NOT agents that have been pulled in to their web).

  • Trevor Mealham

    @ Paul - so far I know of 6 that have come forward. A Andrew Love at OTM who seems to have no estate agency experience on his linkedin, ie CPR's, BPR's or understanding of CMA cartel guidance has launched an attack on us. Some agents are simply sticking up two fingers as INEA is 10% portal and 90% lobbyist for agent rights to government and industry voice for agency fair play to consumers.

    By bringing us into AM/OTM's one other rule restrains agents who feel threatened by AM/OTM from INEA's other services that AM and OTM do NOT offer.

  • Trevor Mealham

    No portal should place anti-competative restraints on agents or abuse business protection regulations with companies/entities/bodies, they consider to be a threat for their own commercial gain.

    In compromising agents duties to best serve the interest of their clients. AM and OTM's cartel like restraints is likely to be compromising 100's if not 100's of agents each day in conflict of the Estate Agents Act. Legislation that stands to protect consumers, NOT the commercial interests of AM and OTM directors.

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    This is very simple. They are bullies. Springett did this with Primelocation.

    I am SO GLAD I am out of this - all of those poor independent agents who got dragged in at the last minute can look forward to being dictated to over the next 5 years!

  • Andrew Goldthorpe

    Trevor, sorry to see the bully has banned your portal thus providing more proof they are anti industry and anti consumer choice.

    Andrew Goldthorpe

    I would love to know how many directors and members were involved in this decision as well as get some answers to questions like what actually is IS's salary; how many were consulted on the Country Life hook up that benefitted the AM founders and not many other members. The list of questions piles up...

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    A lot of bitterness towards OTM / AM.

    Do you blame them for taking this step? Trevor has done his best to bait them over the past year and yes they may well be bullying him but some would say he picked the fight in the first place.

    I think there are a lot of things wrong with OTM but cant for the sake of me see why people need to run it down?

    You have your choice if you want to join and you have voted not to so what the problem? - Unless you fear them actually doing well and excluding you for some reason then leave them to it.

    Simon Shinerock

    Smile, even if Trevor baited them it does not excuse bullying. OTM has sought to create an industry within an industry on the pretext of protecting the interests of the whole industry. It is clear that the real OTM agenda has nothing to do with protecting the little guy or the clever guy and everything about protecting the established big guy. What I find laughable is how so many smaller agents have bought the manure, it just shows what we already know that you don't need yo be that clever to be an estate agent


    Just the language used here ... "An OTM spokeswoman said , OTM has decided that INEA is a competing portal" The very fact that they can pick and choose who is a competitor at any time with little to no input from its membership is very troubling behavior in my opinion.


    "OTM has sought to create an industry within an industry on the pretext of protecting the interests of the whole industry. It is clear that the real OTM agenda has nothing to do with protecting the little guy or the clever guy and everything about protecting the established big guy"

    But is that not what a capitalist society is? Same could be said for good old Trev, He has created his own market within a market using agents listings "repackaging" them and selling on. Making out he is there to help but looking after himself in the main charging £100 p.m. per member.

    I too struggle to see why some agents are advertising as it is a direct replacement for Primelocation at the moment, will this change? time will tell.

    As for "Not needing to be that clever to be an estate agent" sure your staff will like hearing that. I think its the same with any job / profession. Anyone can do a job poorly but to do it well you need to be at least clever within that field ....

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    @Andrew - why does it matter how much IS is paid?

    Andrew Goldthorpe

    I believe it does matter as this is suppossed to be a non-profit mutual. Also, I believe transparency was implied in all the pre launch publicity.
    Are the stories of a £500k salary true? They are neither confirmed nor denied.
    Is £500k salary appropriate for a start up, non-profit business? IMO, no.
    If I was a member of this or any other mutual, I would expect transparency regarding the directors salaries as well as a say in the significant decisions.

  • Trevor Mealham

    Hi Smile,

    At the start INEA was very open and we tried to make approaches to IS which were ALL ignored.

    A software tipped us off that this was going to happen. My guess at the time was that it would stop many agents who use us from using us as many AM agents share their central London listings between agents where one may gain RM leads and the other a Z lead. INEA has outer London agents. Blocking us has simply removed the ability for some outer AM/OTM agents from collaborating.

    So Smile. The truth is we didnt start this. But we may be the ones that finish this ridiculous AM/Cartel like behaviour.

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    What approaches did you make? Was it simply to ask if you could be used along side OTM and one other portal or was it more than that?

    I fail to see how a software company could tip you off, this has been going on for over a year now and since launch OTM have not said its an issue with your INEA. However in that time you have done your best at every opportunity to try and run OTM down. Is now any surprise to you that they have taken this step?

    Simon Shinerock

    Before AM launched OTM I pointed out that the oopr would hurt the little guy and stifle innovation, this is exactly what we are now seeing. However, I spoke to another small portal recently and they told me OTM is ignoring them at the moment, I asked them if I could quote them but surprise surprise they didn't want me to. It's just great to live in a climate of fear with one eye looking behind you, oh no, it's actually not

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    I don't necessarily disagree with you that it hurts the "Little guy" but surely this is down to individual business owners, Why do others feel the need to interject?

    From what i understand Simon you have the chance to join and decided not to (like 15,000 others). Why do you feel the need to run it down? what possible difference does it make to your business?

    Surely the concept you are behind? I know i begrudge my monthly RM bill and yearly hike, do you not want to see this level out more?

    You dont have to promote it but also you do not need to run it down.

  • Simon Shinerock

    Actually I have several very clear simple reasons for being anti OTM, the most important of which are it is unfair and hypocritical and I guess I am in a position to make my views count more than most. The commercial principals are one thing but the distasteful way in which the project has been executed requires a response. If is a big little word and if the project had been approached differently then who knows what may have happened

  • Patrick Kneath

    The INEA website refers to “INEA’s Property Portal” on a link, but the association’s chief executive Trevor Mealham says: “The INEA platform is not a true portal and thus should not come under their one other portal rule. INEA is seen as a co-broker, as is common in other countries like the USA, Canada, Germany and Spain.” Having run a search in the Brighton & Hove area, INEA have nothing listed. Are OTM that worried? We at Latest Magazine support all our local agents and were under the impression and having been to various meetings, we were of the opinion that when you joined OTM you had to drop RM or Zoopla. Could OTM supply a list of portals that they consider to be competitive so that it clears up any doubt with agents?

  • Trevor Mealham

    Good point Patrick. I asked OTM for a list and they refused yesterday.

    Smile. 8-9 years ago I was instrumental in making TESCO Property U turn and exit via a legislation quirk over FS boatds and the fact it then pushed TESCO (into being the agent and then open to PMA and £5k fines for achieving a £299 fee). The legislation has moved on. I did it to protect smaller agents - not personal gain.

    I entered agency 30 years ago and had two very successful offices for over 2 decades.

    Agency then was 65% deals done betwern main and sub agents.

    The RM feed schema all adopted in 2000 by schema doesnt have the sharing fields that the Yanks have in their mls which is better agency and alike old fashioned UK agency.

    My want is a better fairer agent market place that allows cobrokerage back that really portals hijacked.

    Isnt it better agents collaborate with better fees that allow sharing and give buyers and tenants choice. But also vendors and landlords greater exposure via more agents?

  • Trevor Mealham

    Sorry for spelling going skew. On a train and small keyboard.

    But to finalise. I believe AM and OTM have seen INEA as a threat as we have next gen tech that could return main and sub agency to the UK in a way other countries market real estate.

    As a portal we have never tried to take on the top spot players. Instead link good agents with sub agents stock and vice versa.

    AM and OTM are shown as different entities at Companies House. Thus collusion of rules and restraints on us. Portals and online agents is pure cartel like actions.

    We just hope evidence now gained is processed by the CMA swiftly.

    We do not blame any agents pulled in. But we do point the finger at the AM and OTM Directors who have placed us on their hit list.

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    Simon, reading between the lines, forgive me but sounds like it is more a case of sour grapes as you were snubbed from a meeting, which i can understand you being frustrated at especially if it was originally looking to help as oppose to hinder them.

    Reading some of the above comments from a number of posters you would think we have a number of saints in our industry looking to protect it. The truth is there is a lot of self preservation and agendas behind it.

    Simon Shinerock

    There is some truth in what you say in that if IS had been courteous towards me I may not have been so bothered. However, it's not sour grapes because I would not have joined OTM for sound business reasons as well as on principle. Another contributory factor to the effort I have put in was the establishment of 'the other side' and the churlish illogical and babyish attitude of some posters. So I guess I decided 'if you can't join them, beat them' :) BTW I am very pragmatic and pretty forgiving by nature partly because none of us are perfect and I hate taking the moral high ground, so I welcome everyone 'over here' if they play a bit nice

  • Trevor Mealham

    @ Smile. Agree. But INEA isn't one of them which im sure most who know me would agree.

    Our industry is a mess. It could be so much better. But cartel like restraints by OTM and AM isn't the answer


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