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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Estate agency chief says he loves OnTheMarket - but cannot join up

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:

Dear Ian,

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.

Best wishes,

Glenn Ackroyd – Co-owner
EweMove Sales and Lettings

  • Trevor Mealham

    @ Glen. Question?

    As AM/ OTM agents can't do either RM or Z. What about helping such restrained agents gain extra exposure that today they may be missing out on.

    I can help if interested. Let me know. .... I'm easily found on linkedin.

    Rgs Trevor

    Glenn Ackroyd

    OnTheMarket agents can do one or the other - which I think is what your are saying - not both.

    To get more exposure, they have to rely on traditional means - eg newspaper, local property news collectives. But as we know, 90% of people search online - so the ROI on these are poor.

    Sadly with the duopoly that currently exists, ROI online will reduce over time as fees increase. So OTM needs to work.

    I'd prefer an approach where agents can join, but not be forced to 'throw the baby out with the bath water', so that they can get to a critical number - be at 10 or 15 thousand members - and that becomes the goal for a en-mass switch over date.

     
    Trevor Mealham

    Agree Glen - but that say you can only be on OTM and RM or OTM and Z, plus now OTM and other portals only. Simply a cartel stance, a rule book of restraints on trade where if 1/2 the cake only achieves 2% share = poor client and consumer exposure.

    Thus if on the outside, an agent working with a restrained agency could facilitate additional exposure to enquiries they may be able to get that an OTM agent alone is 'bound' to not get.

     
  • Chris Arnold

    What if you're all wrong? Maximum exposure doesn't necessarily translate into better sales opportunities. This broad brush approach plkays more and more into the hands of any portal.

    Glenn Ackroyd

    I agree it doesn't always. But have the wind behind you gives you a better chance of winning the race.

    More exposure = more interest. It stacks the odds in your favour.

    And don't forget the sales leads. Many buyers have houses to sell, or are landlords. So they are potential customers.

     
  • Simon Shinerock

    Glen, your letter is brilliant, brilliant funny and full of cold irony staying the right side of sarcasm, quite an achievement. Your approach is so much more cutting than my bull at a gate criticism. Mind you, what I lack in subtlety I make up for persistence! Well done Glen, definitely the most devastatingly effective hatchet job on OTMI ever.

    Glenn Ackroyd

    Erm, I think that's a compliment :-)

    But it's not meant as a hatchet job. OTM are desperately needed and I fear this is a one off opportunity that the industry can't afford to miss out on.

    Duopolies will only result in lack of innovation and higher fees.

    And what if one day Rightmove decide to become their own 'Online Estate Agent' - having a monopoly on buyer leads gives them enormous power.

     
  • Simon Shinerock

    Glen, it was a compliment I promise, I think from your letter and response you are a very polite and astute guy and not one to court controversy or confrontation while retaining your own strongly held beliefs.

    Whether intended or not, you have created a powerful contrast between two very different approaches. On the one hand you are calm, polite, measured and respectful, on the othe hand, I'm not talking about me here, you have OTM's approach which is arrogant, ignorant and regressive, my thoughts not necessarily yours.

    The trouble is, good ideas are two a penny, it's the execution that counts and the OTM execution has been more like an industry execution than a portal revolution😟💊🙈

  • Simon Shinerock

    Sorry for missing our the n Glenn😀

  • Paul Collier

    Glenn has very accurately identified the problem with joining OTM for many estate agencies like us. We were very excited about the launch of a third portal when it was announced and looked very hard at their proposal. As much as we would have loved to join it would mean a significant reduction in the exposure and marketing of our clients properties - something which we just couldn't accept. Like Glenn we wish OTM every success and hope they will realise the difficulty many of us face in joining and revise their policy.

  • icon

    I agree. Had always felt that this policy was flawed but have given it a go .... and still feel it is flawed. Currently we are finding that demand exceeds supply so we have no trouble selling homes using only RM & OM for our internet marketing, but in a tighter market we might find ourselves thinking again.

  • icon

    The crunch point is this:

    "I simply cannot put YOUR well-intentioned goals ahead of my primary responsibility."

    Yes we know what they say they want, but this is a closed club of elite London agents making deals in restaurants - and do they (national chains) really want your business to succeed?

  • Karl Knipe

    Precisely why any estate agent would decide to remove themselves from either Rightmove or Zoopla to OTM in the first place is beyond me. Just a 2% margin share is paltry to say the least, and now we're seeing OTM members jumping ship, and I'm left trying so hard not to say I told you so.

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