OnTheMarket chief executive Ian Springett has sent an email to member agents following articles about alleged legal challenges to the portal which have appeared in the Financial Times and property trade publications.
The letter mentions “vested interests of some of our detractors” without naming the organisations or individuals it refers to.
There has been a series of stories about disgruntled agents on Estate Agent Today and Property Industry Eye in recent days, several quoting City analysts that have in some cases forecast the possible demise of the ‘one other portal only’ rule.
OnTheMarket denied that it will be ending in an FT article yesterday; the FT spoke with the coordinator of an Action Group which claims there are around 200 agents in dispute with the portal. More coverage of the dispute is expected in some media outlets this weekend.
Here is the OTM letter in full:
You may well have seen some recent negative stories about OnTheMarket. In view of the vested interests of some of our detractors in undermining your portal, I wanted to take this opportunity briefly to set out the relevant facts.
One “story” related to a “legal warning” we sent to “rebel agents”.
It is certainly the case that a week ago legal letters were issued to a very small proportion of member agents who, according to our records and monitoring, were in payment arrears. Like any organisation, we see it as standard practice to seek to recover outstanding debts from customers in arrears with the payments they are contracted to make. On behalf of the broad membership of Agents' Mutual, it is vitally important that we work to ensure that those who have entered contracts with us meet their obligations.
Another “story” has reported that some agents were considering legal action against your portal for alleged misrepresentations made in relation to pricing policy.
We have no reason to believe that there are any grounds for such action. As you would expect, the Board and management team of Agents’ Mutual have at every stage of the company’s inception and development taken appropriate legal advice.
Ultimately, locally-based full service agents like yours have the power to transform the portals landscape for consumers and agents alike with your continued support for OnTheMarket. Your team is keeping its focus on the task in hand. I’m pleased to report that support from agents across the country continues to grow and that we had another record month of traffic in March with over 7 million visits.
We can only expect the level of noise and aggression to increase in certain quarters. In the meantime, we must not lose sight of why thousands of agents joined Agents’ Mutual and created OnTheMarket.