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War of words goes on as OnTheMarket rebels near legal action

The action group representing rebel OnTheMarket agents says it is considering legal action with a barrister named to lead any possible challenge over the portals’ fees.

The possibility of legal action follows yesterday’s meeting of the action group set up by disgruntled members of the portal. 

Around 100 members met in London with the debate reported to have been concentrating on promises made to ‘early joiners’ that their subscription fees would always be equal to, or lower than, members who joined at a later date.


"On Monday morning our information session in Central London was full. The level of outrage among Agents Mutual members who attended is significant. It’s understandable that these small business owners wish to protect their interests” says Iain White, the estate agency consultant trainer who formed the group.

“Now is the time for Agents’ Mutual to provide urgent clarity on what pricing offers it has made to attract new customers since it launched. Affected firms are potentially out of pocket and have a portal which is not meeting their requirements, let alone achieving the success and volume of enquiries that they were promised in return for their early financial commitment" says White.

A regional law firm, Tollers LLP,  has offered to represent the group together with barrister Ian Rees Phillips.

White says a steering committee has been formed to manage liaison with legal representatives on behalf of action group members; he says any other agencies wishing to be included in the process are invited to register at the otmactiongroup website by May 16.

In response to the statement, OnTheMarket remained defiant, saying last evening that the rebels constituted "less than one per cent of our agent firms" - this morning OTM corrected this to "between one per cent and three per cent of our agents."  

"We have no reason to believe that there are any grounds for legal action. The board and management team of Agents’ Mutual have at every stage of the company’s inception and development taken suitable legal advice. We continue to take appropriate legal action to ensure that agents meet their contractual obligations" she continues. 

Meanwhile OTM itself has come out fighting saying the overwhelming majority of its member agents remain committed to the portal, while the board of parent body Agents Mutual, along with management and staff, remain focussed on growing the organisation.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, OnTheMarket is here to stay and we know that our achievements to date, our continuing recent growth and the drive to succeed we share with our members are posing an unwelcome threat to some detractors who would benefit from our demise” says Ian Springett, the portal’s chief executive.

OTM also released messages from four member agents.

Nick Manson, director of Mansons at Jesmond in Newcastle, sales and lettings, said: ”The recent negative comments are a result of those trying to undermine the incredible amount OnTheMarket has achieved since launch.”

Steve Moir, director and chairman of the 80-office Property Sharing Experts organisation, said: “We remain amazed at the short sighted view some agents and some quarters seem to take and firmly believe it is in the long term interest for agents to continue to support OnTheMarket.”

Michael Comyn of Comyn & James at Pulborough in West Sussex said his firm was receiving a good volume of traffic from OnTheMarket while Lana Michael of Kensington Estates in prime central London said she guaranteed support for OTM “for the future of our industry.”

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    I wonder how many unhappy agents there are for every one agent who was prepared to head into London, stump up and take action against them. 5, 10, 20?

    And still the NAEA remains silent on their involvement in this project while one group of their members prepares to take legal action against another group of their members. Why are they sitting on the board of this rotten project?

    Will EAT ask them?

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    Who's paying Ian White ? or where is he doing his research ???

    Blimey, we switched to On The Market and dropped Zoopla. We have seen better customer leads than we ever had from Zoopla, far more traffic to our own website and customer reaction to the whole concept behind On The Market has been a real instruction winner.

    In our view all agents, including those of us who joined initially benefit from a growing On The Market and personally I cant understand why anyone would want to leave, let alone go down this route...... Everyone has benefitted from OTM even those agents (with perhaps a short term view?) who have used it to negotiate better terms with Zoopla, but looking at the bigger picture if OTM was to fail then we will be back to the Duopoly and annual price increases which will ultimately result in the cost of moving increasing for all of us and our customers ...

    I don't know what deals have or have not been done but the reality of business is deals have to be struck in what is a very competitive portal market.. I am sure in time everything will even itself out. Question - have the 100 or (I suspect) less agents supporting this group ever offered one customer a different charging structure to another ? I am also told the amount joining is far higher than this small group ?

    Jon  Tarrey

    What you say is purely anecdotal and entirely based on your own experiences. Why do you presume that everyone else is as happy with OTM's performance? Clearly, given the recent stories we've been seeing, many aren't. Do they not deserve a voice too?

    You've obviously done well from ditching Zoopla and joining OTM. Many others haven't. In the balance of fairness, that needs to be reported.

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    Id be interested to know how your gaining a better customer reaction by telling them your moving from a household name to a website with significantly less traffic that has only been around a year and in liklehood they have never heard of ? Most of my instructions have a sentance that goes something like this me - "We invest in Rightmove and Zoopla to make sure that you get the widest possible audience to help you achieve the best price, some of our competitors have decided to drop one of those to go for a new website with far less traffic called On The Market" - Vendor "Who" - Me "Thats my point"

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    As far as property is concerned many, if not most, consumers prefer to use their local agent whose name they know and who they can speak to face-to-face about what is usually they biggest purchase/sale of their lives. Which portal the agent uses is secondary as long as the agent does the job?

    Jon  Tarrey

    Hmm, I think most sellers would expect their properties to be advertised on Rightmove and Zoopla these days. Don't you?

    Given how many property searches now start online, portals can't be ignored. They should be embraced, not blamed for everything. Yes, they have flaws - and RM's fees are too high - but this idea that they are the big bad wolf, eating up all the angelic little agents, is pretty hard to stomach.

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    The biggest purchase/sale of their lives ? It stands to reason then that they are going to want the largest audience possible .It's a marketing tool to be used at point of instruction , biggest is best

    Rob  Davies

    Absolutely. Well said.

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    It would seem to me that in reading the recent comments most are merely acting as 'an agent' for the big portals. Carry on like that and you will become redundant as an independent business


    Give over Ray, seems your slave to the 80's . No ones forcing you to use them and if you can't afford £1000 a month for advertising it's not one of the portals that will close your business ....these guys charge me less than the papers did 10 years ago

  • Ayyaz Choudry

    The only agents that benefit from OTM are the large ones, especially those that set it up. They have prominence on this portal. The smaller agents where sold a lie and now some of them want out they should be allowed to get out of this contract as their business are at stake . We were mis sold an unfair 5 year contract. As small agents we need to stand together and not let OTM and the bigger agents that set this up control us. I for one will be part of the action group and was very impressed by Iain White and what was discussed at the meeting.


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