A new property portal called Linktosale aims to launch in the UK at the start of March following what appears to be the successful launch of a sister portal in Australia.
One of the creators of the site, Chris Soltvedt, has told Estate Agent Today: “We have just launched it in Australia and looking to publish a UK version before 1st March 2018.”
She says that IT companies are moving into the property sector all over the world, mostly focusing on online-only agencies, sometimes removing agents altogether from the process.
“We are different. We want to help and support traditional agencies by providing a platform that will help them work more efficiently and in the future, help drive down online marketing costs - independent agencies in particular are disgruntled with the high fees dominant portals currently charge” says Soltvedt.
“We want to show that there are companies coming through for whom profits are not the main driver, who want to make a positive difference in this industry and add value” she continues.
The Australian site explains that Linktosale is “a new concept that combines a Traditional Property Portal with Social Networking Technology, an Online Marketplace for Property Related Service Providers, and a Ratings and Review System to help build trust amongst users.”
It goes on to say that this combination “provides a fully interactive, one-stop-shop for all things property” allowing “traditional agencies [to] now compete with 'hybrid' and 'online only' agencies without having to invest in their own technologies.”
The Australian service has two paid subscription deals - one aimed at estate and letting agents, the other at industry suppliers.
The first costs Aus$$60 a month per agent or representative: in the UK, this will cost agents £30 a month. The site says this offers: “The ability to upload and manage unlimited properties is just a small part of what this subscription plan allows you to do. Primarily you are paying to access the tools to help you connect, communicate and collaborate 24/7 with contacts and customers.”
The second deal, for suppliers, costs Aus$30 a month - in the UK this will be £15. “This provides access to all the tools and also allows you to promote your business in the marketplace.”
The Australian site also offers apps for registered agents to use, and is asking its agent clients to suggest improvements to the site - which is only just one a week old. “We are at the beginning of our journey and we can only get better. We want you to help us shape Linktosale into something that works for you. Join us in our journey and help make that happen” it says.
Soltvedt tells Estate Agent Today: “We have built our platform without any kind of investment and want it to be shaped by agents – so ultimately we end up with a system that works for them. I am based in the UK and my partner is based in Australia – it was his complaining about the frustrations he faced as an estate agent over there that got me started on developing a solution.”
She says the problems facing agents in the UK and Australia are similar.
“There appears to be wide-spread dissatisfaction with the dominant portals (Realestate and Domain in Australia, and Rightmove, Zoopla and now OnTheMarket with its one other portal rule). In both countries the main issues seem to be with the increasing fees to list properties on these portals – most of which are passed on to the sellers. There is also concern (in Australia) that they are moving into areas such as finance and will eventually take away business from those sectors” explains Soltvedt.
“There were also similarities (here and in Australia) where agents got together to come up with something to compete with the dominant players (to bring down marketing costs). In Australia it didn’t really get past first base” she adds.
Soltvedt was an intelligence analyst with HMRC for 20 years before starting a web development business, and developed Linktosale in her own time; she accepts there is a challenge establishing a portal without the marketing budgets recently seen from Rightmove and ZPG, parent company of Zoopla and PrimeLocation.
“My thinking here is if some of these dissatisfied agents were prepared to give us a go, and spread the word across their own networks, then before long we could become a serious alternative” she says.