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"Growing potential for portals to replace estate agents" says industry guru

There is a growing potential for property portals to take over the role of estate agents thanks to the vast amount of information they may soon hold about buyers as well as about homes on sale and the agents marketing them.

That is the view of the founder of Property Portal Watch, Simon Baker, who has just concluded his latest international Property Property Watch conference in Bangkok, attended by 130 delegates from 25 countries.

“If you look at a portal today it knows a lot about the advertiser and a lot about the listings but not really a whole lot about the consumer. [But] as portals develop more and more information about the people using the site they would be actually able to match the buyer and the seller so there’s a greater potential for transactions to occur” says Baker.


He says this is already happening with portals in emerging market, especially in the selling of new developments.

He says this is already happening with portals in emerging market, especially in the selling of new developments.

Baker also says easyProperty and Purplebricks in the UK are leading the way in trying to match buyers and sellers for existing homes, as well as new ones, and that this mirrors what might be happening eventually with portals. 

”This will fundamentally affect real estate agency as it exists today” insists Baker.

He says portals are still effectively just ‘big number’ newspapers, driving as many people to visit the site to see the transaction and click through to advertisers. But he predicts this will change in the near future as portals will increasingly focus on attempting to find the motivation and digital identity of those using the sites, and so they will become transactional rather than advertising tools for property.

  • icon

    Just like Property Portals have managed to replace Estate Agents in providing accurate and meaningful property valuations..........

    Jon  Tarrey

    Do estate agents provide accurate and meaningful property valuations? Not always.

  • icon

    The article should have been entitled ''How to demonstrate, internationally' that i have no clue what i am talking about''.

    What a complete load of Cra*

  • Martin Williams

    Rightmove etc. will be offering conveyancing soon ( legislation changing soon ).....The government announced on November 30 2015 that it will launch a consultation by spring 2016 on removing barriers to entry for alternative business models in legal services, and on making legal service regulators independent from their representative bodies. It said: .... “This will create a fairer, more balanced regulatory regime for England and Wales that encourages competition, making it easier for businesses such as supermarkets and estate agents among others, to offer legal services like conveyancing, probate and litigation.”
    RM are the agent of choice for vendors at the moment.. they won't stand still , it's a natural progression to develop the model to offer the customer ( their customer ... because they don't belong to the agent as far as RM are concerned) a convenient system for buying and selling... only a matter of time unless estate agents decide to co-operate

    The best way to predict the future is to create it : Abraham Lincoln

    The comments above would suggest a certain complacency .

    Algarve  Investor

    Agree with this. You can disagree with RM and Zoopla and what they stand for, but to dismiss, ignore and denigrate their success just seems churlish and complacent. They have become the big beasts of the property industry - arguably the two most instantly recognisable names and brands - so they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

    I don't agree with Simon Barker - although I think he has a point - but to dismiss his opinion as totally invalid seems a tad too extreme.

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    Agents are continuing to feed RM - the portal that will eventually eat them!
    At the same time many continue to rubbish OTM. The answer is? I don't know, does anyone.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    I didn't think this would get a favourable response - and I was right. Am I allowed to say that Simon Barker might just have a point?

    Estate agents need Rightmove and Zoopla far more than Rightmove and Zoopla need estate agents. That might be a controversial viewpoint to take, but it's true. Sellers want their properties to be listed on the major portals. Buyers search for properties on the portals. Landlords advertise their properties on the portals. Tenants turn to the portals to browse for rental properties.

    No amount of shouting from agents about how useless and expensive RM and Zoopla are will change that simple fact.

  • Simon Baker

    Thank you for your comments above. Having been involved in the online real estate industry for 16 years, i am not surprised to hear the comments from some people.

    However, the reality, just as it was for news papers, the taxi industry and many many more industries is simple - things change and no matter how much wishful thinking there is for the "good old days", they will pass.

    So ... the reality is that in many countries around the world, portals are entering the transaction stream. They all start the same way, working with new homes developers and then moving to home and land packages. These are the easiest to sell and also have the highest margins.

    As the portals (and horizontals like gumtree) get to know more and more about their visitors (the consumers), they will be better able to match properties with buyers and eventually, the established home market will be targeted.

    It is just a matter of time.

    Simon Baker

    Terence Dicks

    You may be right Simon, but I believe we will be around for a lot longer yet. Regardless of what the portals do, you will never be able to do away with the personal expertise that all good agents offer, and people like to be told they are doing the right thing purchasing a property. A portal cannot, and never will be able to do the same, no matter how much you wish it to be so.


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