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OnTheMarket still pinning its membership hopes on Letters of Intent

OnTheMarket - stung by recent lukewarm assessments of its track record - has repeated its faith in letters of intent from agents to resuscitate its rivalry with Zoopla.

Over the weekend OTM was the subject of a critique by the BNP Paribas investment bank, which had previously been optimistic about the portal’s success. 

However, William Packer of the media equity research division of BNP Paribas told investors that the “threat of another tranche of member losses to Agents' Mutual [had] reduced” and that with “under 1,000 letters of intent” after several months, it expected the portal status quo to remain - with Agents’ Mutual/OTM at number three. 


But yesterday evening OnTheMarket hit back with a statement from chief executive Ian Springett. It reiterated that the portal had “the total support of well over 6,000 estate and letting agent offices,” over 90 per cent of which were contracted.

“The balance is offices which are covered by a non-binding Letter of Intent to join when total support reaches 7,500 offices” says Springett.

He says OTM used the Letter of Intent process to gather the portal’s initial 1,800 gold member offices in 2013 and this was also part of the process to add over 2,800 silver and gold member offices in 2014. 

“The rate of conversion to contract in both cases exceeded 80 per cent indicating that locally-based, full service agents want Agents' Mutual to succeed and simply need to see that sufficient scale has been reached - nationally and locally to them - before entering a contract” he says.

Springett adds that OTM’s latest Letter of Intent programme “is now snowballing” and that the portal is entering 2016 “intent on overtaking Zoopla Property Group in terms of UK available property listings.” 

His statement singles out Zoopla chief executive Alex Chesterman and eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk for criticism. It then concludes by saying: “Our direction of travel is clear and with the strong support of high street agency, we remain as focused as ever on reaching our full potential - a sustainably low-cost alternative to Rightmove.”

The statement makes no direct reference to the BNP Paribas critique, nor to the description of OnTheMarket made by a City correspondent in the Sunday Times: “A juggernaut, it is not.”

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    One day Springett will surprise everyone by giving some clear and verified facts rather than hot air and hyperbole.

    Rob  Davies

    Don't bet on it!

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    What Iam Springett fails to mention is that in order to get agents onboard, they have now reduced their original fees of £299per month to just £50per month for the first 12 months.
    If I was one of the agents who signed up at the start, I’d be asking for a refund?
    What’s more is they are particularly targeting those who are already signed up with Zoopla.

    Rob  Davies

    Interesting. Maybe we could get Springett's opinion on that as well? I'm sure he'd find some way to spin it to OTM's advantage. A master of PR, that man. Just a shame that OTM's results really don't add up, which makes his bullishness and hyperbole all the more embarrassing.

  • icon

    Is this true? If it is there will be uproar!


    Have seen this claim on numerous forums recently - seems to be gathering pace but could just be hot air from the 'haters'

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    • m s
    • 01 December 2015 07:53 AM

    Will be discussing this with my OTM rep.

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    I'm still convinced that OTM is simply a ruse by Right Move to knock Zoopla out of the water and then increase their prices!

  • Trevor Mealham

    @Agents s
    I don't think RM would be stupid enougg tk set up a cartel like restraint model that could land many in hot water for its anti-competitive restraints such as
    *banning online only models.
    *Targeting memberships of other platforms such as INEA.
    *Placing a one other portal

    For sure government want to encourage online models. I wouldnt want to be an OTM agent being seen to support anti competitive trade.


    Would the CMA need to wait for a full year to elapse before they can impose fines of one year revenue?

    Trevor Mealham

    The CMA would take as long as they feel they need to. It's not uncommon for monitoring and then investigation to take somewhere between 1-2 years.

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    Got to be honest I was not keen with OTM, however, we were offered a rate that was agreeable to us, so have given it a go. We have only been on for two weeks, although the traffic is a lot less than both its rivals, it has been directly responsible for two sales in the first two weeks, more than paying for itself. The quality we had from Zoopla on the whole was poor. I would rather quality over quantity, but every agent is different!


    So your competitors subsidised you on this one. Well played Sir!

    Rookie Landlord

    Being positive about OTM won't get you very far around here. They're the devil incarnate according to some who frequent these comment sections.

    Trevor Mealham

    Daniel - if you are on OTM you have agreed to come off either RM or Z? You say traffic is LESS than RM/Z. If so would you agree that less traffic may have equated to less viewings and that if more viewers had viewed you may have got a higher offer to sstc?

    If so, I wouldn't dispute that its gained you buyers, but did it achieve your consumers better buyers than being on RM AND Z and OTM would have achieved???

  • Rookie Landlord

    There does seem to be an increasing amount of anti-OTM sentiment, but they are so far defying the naysayers by not yet dying a death (as some predicted would have happened by now). They are, I'll admit, having some trouble establishing themselves, and Springett doesn't help himself sometimes with his over-the-top and hyperbolic statements, but I really don't they're doing as bad as all that.

    As the article yesterday stated, they will probably end up being a significant No. 3 portal. No disgrace in that. Springett might not like it, but that looks like it's going to be the reality.

    Then, once they've established themselves and have improved their brand awareness, they can start to think about mounting a realistic challenge on Zoopla. As OTM showed at the beginning, Zoopla are vulnerable and do clearly have some very unhappy customers.


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