The director of a leading regional independent agency says the agency industry needs a thriving Zoopla to keep Rightmove in check, and that OnTheMarket cannot hope to succeed as a portal that will “defend the industry from innovation.”
Lyndon Bent - director of Bradleys, one of the south west’s main independent agencies - says he is in principle in favour of an agency-owned portal but insists the industry cannot afford to “remove one of their key sales tools and make their job harder than it already is.”
Bent says the OTM strategy to date has merely been aimed at damaging Zoopla.
“A strong Rightmove needs a strong competitor. In our view Zoopla is that competitor, so why do anything to hold them back? There is still time for you to change your tack” he says.
The full statement from the Bradleys’ director is below:
As one of the leading independent agents in the South West and an active and enthusiastic supporter of the wider estate agency industry, we have watched with great interest as events have unfolded in the property portal market over the past two years.
Instinctively, we support the idea of an industry owned portal. It makes sense to support this and of course we, like many others, were tempted by the idea. However we didn't feel able to commit to Agents Mutual - why?
The strategy of this project is a clear attempt to damage Zoopla; a website and team who in Bradleys’ view have done an excellent job over the past few years to emerge and present a genuine challenge to Rightmove. Why would we want to weaken a current challenger to the market leader?
So why are we making our views public now? Well, you just have to look at the forthcoming PurpleBricks flotation to understand that the market is changing and as time - inevitably - marches on, there will be further innovation in our sector.
We believe that a High Street estate agency such as ours has a lot to offer, particularly as we have been doing business online for many years, as well as providing the added value of additional services. If the industry galvanises and focuses on the positive aspects of our overall service, collectively we can see off any threat from newcomers.
Agents appear to be intent on driving fees down in the face of the perceived threat. Frankly who will be able to offer the local service that our network can, and who has the network of contacts and potential buyers to ensure to achieve the best possible price?
Is it rational to be spending time and money trying to build a property portal in the hope that it will somehow defend us from innovation? Anyone who read last week’s Treasury document will understand that the government is determined to see progress in our sector.
A strong Rightmove needs a strong competitor. In our view Zoopla is that competitor, so why do anything to hold them back? There is still time for you to change your tack.