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Agent who said OnTheMarket would die in a year speaks out - on its birthday

An online estate agent who a year ago predicted that OnTheMarket would not survive for 12 months has issued a statement about the portal - which marks its first birthday today.

A year ago today we reported that Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of eMoov, branded OnTheMarket a “flawed concept” which would not last longer than 12 months.

Today Quirk returns to the attack in a ‘birthday’ statement which makes no reference to his prediction. 

He says member agents advertising their properties on OTM should question the portal’s financing; he says £12m of its £20m budget is dedicated to marketing, meaning - he says - £8m is spent on salary payments to head office and sales teams.

“On the marketing side, it is plainly clear that OTM is by far the most expensive form of digital marketing out there. The cost per lead (if you care about enquiries) or cost per eyeball (if you care about brand exposure) to an agent is many many times more than that of Rightmove or Zoopla” claims Quirk. 

“And OTM's (or more accurately its member agents) cost to attract visitors to its website is shockingly expensive” he adds. 

Quirk says that on the investment side, OTM member agents should question what their payback will be, ultimately, for the current pain of more expensive leads and visits. 

“OTM argues that [payback] comes in the form of reduced fees. But that argument doesn't hold true if OTM are massively overcharging now based on performance and audience,  and in the future they move down towards a more reasonable market price. And it certainly doesn't hold true for overall portal marketing costs as OTM has had no constraint on Rightmove pricing and, in fact, most analysts believe it has had the opposite effect.” 

Quirk says OTM agents are pouring money down a black hole.

Meanwhile OTM itself has issued a statement to mark the anniversary, saying it is now recognised as a “challenger brand.”

“We have already revealed this year that we have achieved the support of 6,500 estate and letting agent offices – a 50 per cent increase on this time last year – and we are now on our way to our next milestone of achieving support from 7,500 offices.

“There are many areas of the UK where we are already the number 2 portal in terms of available residential listings – and have been for a long time – and many others where just a few extra offices would push us over the line” says the statement.

Last week Zoopla revealed a series of agencies which had returned from OTM.

  • Chris Arnold

    Not every commercial decision needs to be based around ROI. The principle of OTM isn't flawed and although there are some early issues, all they need to do is to win the hearts and minds of members.
    Emotional decisions often turn out far better than logical ones. Agencies that value even a modicum of self control will always put that above a culture of manipulation and aggressive sales tactics.
    Perhaps that is one reason why online estate agencies have such a hard time convincing the public that they might be the future - they have no demonstrable advantages ( not even cost-savings), no transparency and certainly no community interest.
    OTM has done a remarkable job in the space of 12 months. Is it perfect? Of course not, but the analogy between Russell's urgent need for OTM to be an immediate success and online agency's urgent need for quick sales,whatever the asking price achieved, is strikingly obvious.
    It's ironic, also, that time will ultimately see the demise of most online agencies in the UK. Not in the number of years they manage to stumble on losing money, but in the actual hours they are able to devote to a task that requires empathy, experience, creativity and belief. Wham,Bang, Thank You Maam is no way to sell any property.
    Just for the record, I am not an agency and have no preference whether any agency chooses OTM, RM or Zoopla.

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    What utter drivel.

     
    Jon  Tarrey

    "all they need to do is to win the hearts and minds of members."

    They've had a year to do this, haven't they? The fact they're shelling members like I'm shelling hair would suggest that it is a flawed concept, isn't it?

    You talk about online agents struggling to convince the public that they are the future. Well, maybe if OTM had embraced the online model as a viable alternative they'd have put up more of a fight than they have.

    They've not disappeared, they're still here, but I don't think you can call this first year a success. They've made RM stronger and, after putting Zoopla on the ropes for a bit, they've made the main challenger portal stronger too. They set out to break up the duopoly but they've only succeeded in making it stronger, as far as I can see.

     
    Jon  Tarrey

    *The fact they're shelling members like I'm shelling hair would suggest that it is a flawed concept, wouldn't it?

     
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    Do you give valuations based on your emotions rather than logic as well?

     
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    In response to Jon, AM were formed in January 2013 and to they've actually had three years to win our hearts and minds.....

     
  • Chris Arnold

    Just read that UBER, the often used example of a disruptive taxi sector, has abandoned their fixed fare to London airpiorts. Just as time/ distance needs to be factored into any journey by taxi, so too does time/promotion need to be assessed in any agency fee. Might we expect online agencies to drop their fixed fee anytime soon? The alternative is to spend less time, or of course, to charge more!

  • icon

    Perhaps we, as readers, would be better served by this website if Mr Quirk had been pressed on his comments from 12 months ago rather than just allowing his press release to be used verbatim.

    One point I did find interesting though was the reference to RM pricing. Mr Q talks about 'analysts' views. Surely he would know if eMoov's pricing on RM had increased over the last 12 months?

    Unless of course they have some sort of a deal like a 5 year fixed term.

    Jon  Tarrey

    I think Mr Quirk, like many of our politicians, has selective memory. He's probably completely blanked out everything he said 12 months ago and wouldn't remember even if pushed on it!

     
  • Simon shinerock

    The reasons I don't support OTM are it is no-inclusive, backward thinking and seeks to impose marketing control on my business. It's not really about whether online is better than high street or full service, it's about whether we let the market and the customer decide what's best or the current establishment.

    I read a lot of nonsense about the nobility and value of high st estate agencies, usually promoting the independent over the corporate. In reality, the facts are less flattering. It's not really about which type of agency is best, it's really about which one or two agents dominate their local area.

    Sadly, most agents of whatever breed are dire, they have poor communication and relationship skills and frankly it's hard to fathom how they do the small amounts of business they do. The real producers are a reflection of the 80/20 rule, a rule which is amplified as you go up the market.

    So the only agents who need take note of this debate are the ones on the way up and the ones on the way down. In both cases OTM will probably slow your progress up and accelerate your journey down.

    Terence Dicks

    That is rather an arrogant statement to make about agents. Is that due to your all-compassing knowledge of most estate agents or a shot in the dark?? I would assume (although I do not normally do so) that sweeping statement does not include you of course.

     
    Simon shinerock

    Terence p, how can the truth be arrogant? We live in a competitive world, one in which our track records and achievements are increasingly a matter of public knowledge, I think I'll let mine speak for themselves

     
  • Rob  Davies

    Quirk and OTM - a match-made in hell?

    Only joking (sort of). Quirk might have far too much to say for himself, but on this he's pretty much spot on. OTM hasn't died out yet, but they certainly seem to be going out with a whimper. I think, if they settled for lower ambitions and tried to secure their place as the third biggest and most-used portal, they could start to get somewhere.

    The problem was their initial ambitions. They were too unrealistic, too bullish. Springett should take the lion's share of the blame for that. Like easyProperty, he talked the talk but clearly hasn't walked the walk. They were never going to overtake Zoopla as the no 2 portal within a year. It was ridiculous to think they might. If they'd had lower expectations to begin with, they might be able to qualify their success better now.

    Slow and steady wins the race. All-guns blazing very rarely works as a long-term strategy.

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    Whether you are for or against OTM - I still find commentary from online agents like RQ irrelevant. You're not allowed to join - get over it. If it's so rubbish and you didn't want to join anyway then why are you still bleating on about it? Oh yes, to secure some more column inches.... I think i'd rather hear about your latest crowdfunding campaign, which I'm sure you can arrange.

    Jon James

    I cant believe this guy Qiurk gets so much airtime. Its a joke.

     
  • icon

    I think most agents have got bored of these over promises and are seeing straight through and straight past this now.

    How long did PropertyLive last before it went?

  • Jeff Djevdet

    “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, you didn’t want online agents, now they don’t want you too”

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