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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents to receive one million shares from OnTheMarket this week

OnTheMarket will on Wednesday of this week issue over a million shares to agents who have signed new long-term listing agreements with the portal - assuming it gets the go ahead from the London Stock Exchange.

No details have been revealed as to the identities or numbers of agents involved but in the past year OTM has used shares as an incentive for agents - previously listing on discounted or free deals - to become customers paying at market rates.

It is thought that this week’s shares give-away is the eighth of its kind in the past 12 months. 

However, the frequency of such give-aways has slowed: there was one announced in December last year, two in February and three in April. There followed another in late July and now the latest in November.

This latest application is for 1,071,035 ordinary shares; that will mean that from Wednesday, the total number of ordinary shares and voting rights in the company will be 64,817,948.  

Figures released by the portal last month, relating to the six months to the end of July this year, showed more losses.

Revenue was up 14 per cent on the same stage of 2018, but the operating loss was up from £5.7m to £7.2m; its costs had risen substantially, by 23 per cent, thanks to sales personnel and IT spending. Cash in hand held by the portal was £8.8m - well down on the £15.7m it reported in January. 

At the end of July branch membership stood at 12,434 – a big rise on the 7,788 in summer 2018 - but it is unknown how many of those were on discounted deals. 

However, since then there has once again been mounting criticism of the portal from many agents. 

Last month we covered the issue raised by Ian King of Humberstones Homes in the West Midlands, who was being charged fees by OTM for an office it knew too be closed. 

He said the original listing agreement he signed was “massively corrupt” and that he was now paying only slightly less for the portal than he was for Rightmove - and more than he was paying for Zoopla.

And Raste Khan from London agency Cubix - a Gold member of Agents’ Mutual, the firm which originally started OnTheMarket as a mutual owned by agents alone - has called for the formation of an action group of disgruntled OTM members. 

In 2015 Khan was one of many agents to sign a five year full-fee contract, only to find shortly afterwards that other agents were offered discounted or even free deals.

After a dispute over fees he says his firm is now faced with a choice of paying £24,000 to OTM or being taken to court.

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