It appears that OnTheMarket member agents can, if they wish, opt out of the five year ‘lock in’ share agreement and - if they do - they are free to sell their shares at any time after the portal’s float on the London Stock Exchange.
Two agents which are members of the portal queried the position with Estate Agent Today having been uncertain of the position following discussion with OTM reps.
There had been suggestions in some quarters that agent members - even those opposed to the demutualisation - were now obliged to sign up to the five your lock in.
Under the proposals agreed by 89 per cent of OTM agent members who voted in the demutualisation ballot over the summer, those who do sign up to the lock in would have to retain most of their shares for the five year period, selling no more than 10 per cent after year one and another 10 per cent after year two.
However, the agents who contacted EAT have received correspondence suggesting that they are free not to sign the lock-in: meaning their listing on OTM would extend only to the period set out in their current agreement and they could sell their as many shares as they wish at any time.
Emails sent to agents by OnTheMarket reps, seen by EAT, strongly emphasise the company’s wish for agents to sign up to the five year deal which would be seen by future prospective investors as an indication of some long-term feasibility for the portal.
Agents are being told that their signing of the five year lock in would help create a more successful float and help achieve a higher share price.
OTM’s timing for listing on the stock market is challenging, as most publicly-quoted residential property sector companies have seen their share prices fall in recent times. Countrywide and Foxtons have stolen the headlines as ‘traditional’ companies - but Purplebricks’ share price has dropped around 30 per cent since the height of the summer.
The temptation may be strong for agents to realise the early value of their shares, once Agents’ Mutual floats, in case the value dips in line with other quoted firms in the sector.
A spokesperson for OnTheMarket told Estate Agent Today: “If members have any queries about such matters, they should address them directly with the company.”