The big question for the industry at the moment is the cost and future of portals.
This is especially key for agents facing rising overheads, the prospect of costly regulation and training in the future, and a stagnant market with little prospect of significant improvements in the year to come.
Earlier this week the Federation of Independent Agents argued that its members should secure more favourable fees from Rightmove; last month industry consultant Iain White urged agents to consider using a wider range of PropTech tools to prepare themselves for ‘life after portals’; OnTheMarket’s original ideals, now by the wayside, were aimed at putting agents at the heart of an alternative to Rightmove and Zoopla.
With this increased interest in portals and with agents reporting paying a bewildering array of different charges, Estate Agent Today has asked the ‘big three’ how some agents appear to pay different fees to others, and why.
So we have asked how Rightmove, Zoopla and OTM discounted fees to some agents, and whether this was done on the basis of their status, or their size in terms of branch numbers, or whether they can simply ‘barter down’ their fees by individual negotiation with their local reps?
A Rightmove spokesperson says: “Agents pay per sales and/or lettings branch, and also for additional virtual branches if 50 per cent or more of their stock is outside a 100,000 radius of their branch, so that agents are charged consistently regardless of their business model. Agents have the option to pay for three different packages – Essential, Enhanced and Optimiser. There are discounts available for an agent’s core membership fee depending on their product spend, for example with the Optimiser package an agent doesn’t pay anything for their core membership, all the spend goes on the products that they choose to use to grow their business.”
And Zoopla’s chief commercial officer, Andy Marshall, says: “Zoopla offers value for money and a tangible return on investment. Agents know this, which is why 2,000 branches have joined Zoopla this year – led by some of the biggest names in the industry. We work to deliver the very best possible service to customers, and while it isn’t our policy to offer discounts categorically, our pricing structure is designed to support agents, enabling them to maximise every opportunity.”
A spokesperson for OnTheMarket says: "We continue to convert agents to full-tariff, long-term contracts with share issuance. Over 3,000 agent firms operating over 6,000 UK agency branches are OnTheMarket shareholders, increasing the strong core membership around which we are building OnTheMarket. We have recently supplemented our offering to agents with the introduction of lower-priced, shorter-term offers, with the aim of maximising the number of paying agent customers and shareholders, migrating all to full-tariff contracts progressively. In addition to the period of commitment, paying contracts vary primarily according to agents' size in terms of branch numbers, their location and whether they operate in sales and/or lettings."
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