OnTheMarket is being accused by an agent of charging a monthly fee for a branch it knows to be shut.
Ian King of Humberstones Homes in the West Midlands contacted Estate Agent Today, showing us OTM’s bill itemising the closed branch.
King says: “We have closed our Bearwood office but still being charged for it due to some small print in the original listing agreement which I believe is massively corrupt.”
He adds: “[This] means I’m actually paying more for OTM than Zoopla now and not much less than Rightmove – and OTM want agents to see themselves as more friendly and fairer than Rightmove!”
King describes the affair as “unjust” and says he believes there is another agency in the same area which has a similar issue - being charged by OTM for a branch that is known to have been closed permanently.
When approached about the issue, OnTheMarket told us: “We do not comment on the specifics of our agents’ contracts.”
The challenger portal has been in the news recently for a conflict with another estate agency, the nine-branch James Pendleton firm in London.
Trade publication The Negotiator says the agency had been on one of OnTheMarket’s free membership deals, promoted in past years in a bid to boost its listings as OTM attempted to rival the major portals.
Chief executive Lee Pendleton told The Negotiator earlier this week that while it was unlikely that his firm would actually pay to list on OnTheMarket it was happy to benefit from the 100 per cent discount offered by the portal.
But a day after the comments appeared, Pendleton received an email from OnTheMarket giving his company a month’s notice after which its properties and profile will removed from its listings. He described the move as “a bit vindictive.”
Earlier this month OnTheMarket reported that 2,346 branches had converted to full-paying contracts as of September 30, paying an average of £288 per month. However, it confirmed an earlier warning to its shareholders that the take up of long-term contracts was running at a rate lower than expected.
As a result it was introducing shorter lower-cost contracts, typically at £203 per month.
In the six months to the end of July, OTM’s revenue of £8m was up 14 per cent on the same period last year: but its operating loss rose to £7.2m from £5.7m and its costs soared 23 per cent to £14.8m.