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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

OTM disputes begin to focus on Information Memorandum and fees

The broad disgruntlement of some OnTheMarket estate agent members over claims of poor quality and low quantity of leads, and the general low profile of the portal itself, are beginning to be overshadowed by specific dissent looking at fees.

Much of the debate appears to be centred on an Agents' Mutual Information Memorandum which was added to the contracts of early Gold members. 

It is alleged by some agents that this memorandum gives written assurances that through investing in loan notes and committing to the portal for five years, member agents would in return pay lower fees than those who joined after the portal’s January 2015 launch.

Some dissenting agents claim that substantial numbers of agents have more recently joined for as little as £50 a month (in some cases, that is a 10th or less of the fees paid by some early-joining agents).

A scan of what appears to be a £50 monthly contract for OnTheMarket has been widely distributed by some disgruntled agents, and has been sent to OnTheMarket members and the trade press. 

Some member agents have now contacted OnTheMarket, Agents’ Mutual and/or Eversheds - the law firm representing Agents’ Mutual - stating that the levying of such low fees constitutes a material breach of contract. 

As a consequence, some agents claim, their subscriptions and pre-launch loan notes should be refunded.

  • Simon Shinerock

    When asked Agents Mutual's response was 'no comment' not a defence, or a justification, or a rebuttal, just 'no comment' a comment which in this case, ironically, says everything we need to know

    John Evans

    I expect they would comment to a question from a client, are you a client of theirs then?

     
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    I read your mail most days and it seems to be heavily biased against OTM.
    I'm an agent and subscribe to OTM.
    Are you able to help me with the following queries?
    1. Is it a confirmed fact that some agents are paying the lower rate of £50 /month?
    2. Do OTM advertise with you at all?
    3. Does Hoopla or it's allied companies advertise with you and as I believe they do are they a major client?
    Roderick Thomas

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    Sorry, obviously should be zoopla but an automatic spell check changes it!
    Perhaps Hoopla is a better description.
    Roderick

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    Err, Roderick.

    There is a banner for Zoopla above so I would say the answer to 3. is yes.

    The answer to 3. is simple, Property Industry Eye (whose major portal advertiser is Agents Mutual) published one of their £50 contracts yesterday:

    http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/contract.pdf

     
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    This gets more and more interesting. I had dinner with a friend yesterday evening who has been looking into this more closely.

    With the evidence emerging that Agents Mutual have signed many agents at very low rates (£50 seems to be their favourite), that the following statement in their Information Memorandum provides a cast iron argument for anyone who wants to be released from their contract - and a potential route to recover all monies invested through the courts if they can be bothered:

    "For agents which make no term commitment to list with the portal in advance, listing fees will be set shortly before launch. They will be higher than the tariff for Silver members and will not be fixed."

    So it is surely game, set and match for anyone who signed as gold or silver at full rate before or at launch.

    There is a second line of attack that Agents Mutual have opened themselves up to and that may provide a 'get out' for any agent who is paying their full rates. That is that this organisation is a mutual; everyone is equal and that includes pricing. Any agent who signed one of their contracts at their full rate can argue that they only did so because they believed this. They can also argue that the portal simply cannot keep its commitments on marketing and product development if Agents Mutual are signing agents at low rates as the projections made in the same Information Memorandum were all based on agents paying full rate.

    So, if you are paying the full rate to Agents Mutual, the real question is 1. are you happy doing so, and 2. do you want to continue.

    If the answer is 'No' or either of these questions, you have a pretty strong argument to get out whether you signed before, at or after launch.

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    Thanks for the reply and the info. As you say Estate Agent Today has a vested interest in the wellbeing of Zoopla.
    Am I being rather slow?
    The link you kindly supplied shows a rate and it carries the logo and a copy of a letter of intent.
    It does not seem to name any firm?
    Is there evidence a firm has been signed up at this rate?

    Thanks for the help.
    Roderick

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    Hi Roderick,

    As a member of agents mutual may I suggest that as a recourse you ring the company and ask them directly ? If you are happy paying or have yourself a £50 contract then there is no problem .If , like many others , you take umbridge with the pricing policy the only avenue that can clear this up is to call the company concerned

     
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    I note the fee schedule is missing from the contract.

    Is it £50 forever or £50 for a set period I.E. until they have the 7,500 members?

    I think this makes a big difference.

     
  • John Evans

    These OTM v Hoopla stories are getting so boring please EAtoday move on

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    I have mystery shopped On The Market and my local rep who sold it to me was doing her best to get me signed up for £50.
    I am now waiting for On The Market to call me back as I want my fees reduced and all my overpayments refunded....

  • David Bennett

    I think OnTheMarket will soon be OffThe Market. What was supposed to be a portal for agents, by agents, has had fierce criticism from day one, from all quarters and is constantly on the back foot, having to defend itself. Why not get behind it and support the agent's portal or carry on running it down and see it fail. Then be at the mercy of Rightmove and Zoopla and see your fees continue to rise. Why would a seller instruct an agent which uses OnTheMarket - apparently a poor substitute for the two main portals. Either get on the bus and tow it to the scrapyard.

  • David Bennett

    Either get on the bus or tow it to the scrapyard.!

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