The head of a controversial property portal says agents can by-pass some GDPR marketing restrictions by using his service’s social network.
Ben Davis, chief executive of Propertyheads, has said in an interview with the Lock Consultancy that a unique aspect of his portal compared to Rightmove, ZPG and OnTheMarket is that he offers a social network for agents and clients to message each other without using email or telephone.
He tells interviewer Graham Lock that the social network allows agents advantages they cannot get elsewhere in the property listings space - for example, they can set up Deal Groups, privately inviting individual clients and would-be clients to discuss properties.
In addition they could maintain contact with past clients so that if a previous buyer, for example, landscapes a garden the agent could keep in touch by saying how that feature has added value to the property.
But Davis also says agents can effectively avoid some marketing restrictions imposed by GDPR by using the social network within Propertyheads.
“A lot of GDPR restrictions that apply to email and telephone simply don’t apply to social networks. … There’s a lot more freedom over what you can put on a social network than what you can put in an email” says Davis. He also says: “Just because Mrs Jones has never expressed an interest in buy to let before, doesn’t mean [agents] can’t share your buy to let opportunities with her over the social network.”
Propertyheads made waves in June when it launched with a large number of listings from 17 estate agencies, which at the time were described as “partners”.
Within a matter of hours many of the agencies complained that they were unaware of the portal and had not given consent for their listings to be used; some told EAT they would take legal action from the portal if they were not removed.
Now that the dust has settled, Davis says in the Lock interview that he currently has 4,000 agents on the portal - it isn’t clear whether this is branches or companies - and he says “we’re speaking to a lot of the big corporates.”
Davis says his portal is free to list for agents now and “we will always be free” and will include listings from traditional, online and hybrid agencies but will not permit For Sale By Owner private listings “partly for quality control reasons.”
Other features which Davis says differentiate his service from established portals include a facility for agents to ask prospective buyers to review properties they vie, although each review would only ‘go live’ if approved by the agent first.
You can see the Propertyheads portal here.