The founder and co-owner of hybrid estate agency EweMove has written to the chief executive of the OnTheMarket portal, lavishly praising the site’s appearance and its philosophy - but saying he cannot join.
Glenn Ackroyd, who calls himself the Head Shepherd at EweMove, says in the letter to OTM’s Ian Springett that he was inspired to write as a result of an “anniversary statement” from one of the portal’s founding directors earlier this week.
Ackroyd says OTM is “aesthetically superior” to Rightmove and Zoopla and “provides a much better user experience when compared to other portals”. He adds that he shares the view that the existing market dominance of Rightmove and Zoopla requires serious competition to keep prices down and innovation up.
But he says that notwithstanding his own personal support for the objectives and style of OnTheMarket, its controversial ‘one other portal’ policy prevents his agency from joining.
Ackroyd cites figures from independent online research consultancy Hitwise and says: “With a paltry two per cent share, OnTheMarket’s rule of forcing agents to sacrifice all bar one other property website is having some quite shocking unintended consequences.”
These include, he says, properties listed on OTM and only one other portal at best reaching only 70 per cent of sellers, meaning OnTheMarket member agents are “sitting ducks, unable to compete with local agents who are free to provide exposure on all of the major property websites.”
Ackroyd has sent a copy of his letter to Estate Agent Today:
I felt compelled to write to you after reading your recent anniversary statement in Estate Agent Today.
Like many estate agents, I’ve kept a very close eye on the fortunes of OnTheMarket.com, wishing it every success. In my opinion, your website is not only aesthetically superior, but it provides a much better user experience when compared to other portals.
And I share the view that the existing portal dominance of Rightmove and Zoopla requires serious competition, not just to keep subscription fees in check, but more importantly to drive innovation for the benefit of consumers.
And to that end, I would dearly love to be able to come on board and support the many hard working agents within your group. But my feelings aside, sadly I can’t, and I hope that this letter will help you to understand why.
As you know, a mandatory requirement of an estate agent becoming a member of OnTheMarket.com is to restrict them to only marketing a seller’s home with just one other portal…
Most agents have opted for Rightmove at the expense of Zoopla.
You’ll have seen website traffic statistics from the independent research group Hitwise for August 2015 which revealed the following web views and market share;
Rightmove 89,970,776 (68%)
Zoopla/Prime Location 40,059,028 (30%)
OnTheMarket.com 2,704,824 (2%)
And this goes to the heart of my problem.
Any estate agent tied into OnTheMarket.com, even when also listing houses with Rightmove, is at best only reaching 70% of the buyers via online websites.
But with a paltry 2% share, OnTheMarket.com’s rule of forcing agents to sacrifice all bar one other property website is having some quite shocking unintended consequences:
- Crucially sellers are losing out on exposure to at least 30% of buyers who use Zoopla/Prime Location
- Rightmove has become even more dominant
- OnTheMarket.com agents have been left as sitting ducks, unable to compete with local agents who are free to provide exposure on all of the major property websites
So despite my wish to see you succeed, I simply cannot put your well-intentioned goals ahead of my primary responsibility.
And that means providing the best possible service to house sellers by listing their homes with Rightmove, Zoopla and other websites, which, according to Hitwise will reach 98% of buyers.
History shows that no business survives when it puts it’s own interests ahead of customers and I would urge you to re-think the one portal rule before it’s too late.
Glenn Ackroyd – Co-owner
EweMove Sales and Lettings