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New property portal launches with revolutionary business model

A new sales portal has launched with a radically different business model, aiming to pay agents to list on it.

It’s the brainchild of Babek Ismayil, founder of PropTech business OneDome, already well known by some agents for its locality, valuation and conveyancing tools.

The new portal - also known as OneDome - will at first serve the South East only; the aim is for this to be “polished” with changes over the coming weeks, and then rolled out to the entire UK within 16 months - so by mid-2020.

One of its features is to allow users to search for property using free text, as on Google and most internet search engines.

So for example, buyers seeking a ‘two bedroom flat in Southampton near a good school and park for £250,000’ can type those words into the portal, with an AI-based search facility finding and displaying homes that match the criteria. 

The search results are collated by the portal indexing all websites where properties are listed with the exception of other portals. 

Controversially - given the history of some portals which 'scraped' other websites - the OneDome portal says estate agents do not need to do anything at all to have their properties displayed “but if they don’t want the listings indexed, OneDome will remove them at the agent’s request.”  

Alternatively, estate agents can provide a live feed of their properties - just as they do for Rightmove, for example - and in return, OneDome offers a contract guaranteeing that it will not charge the agent for 100 years.  

Like other portals, OneDome says it will generate revenue by cross-selling additional services to users; however, unlike other portals, OneDome says it will share revenue from the sale of these services with the agent involved in the transaction. 

In addition, agents will still be able to refer work to their own suppliers, either directly or via the OneDome platform. 

For all agents who sign a specific listings contract, OneDome will also give an option to convert some of the transactional fee due from OneDome into equity in the business, with early sign-ups having a more advantageous conversion rate.

Ismayil told EAT: “We recognise that estate agents' data is valuable, so if we can generate revenue from it, we share that revenue. Not only do we guarantee free listings for 100 years, OneDome is the only portal that actually pays agents”.

The portal says it has already contacted agents around the country to let them know that their sites will be indexed to provide listings, with agents being told that: “Over the past few years, estate agents have become reliant on property portals that charge an ever-increasing amount for listing properties. However, as these portals would not exist without the content that agents supply them, why should agents have to pay?” 

Ismayil has said OneDome’s aim is for the entire property transaction - involving agents, conveyancers, mortgage brokers and buyers and sellers - to use a single platform.

OneDome has raised over £9m for the portal and aims to continue to fundraise as the platform is rolled out region by region. Much of this will be spent on marketing, recognised as a key element in the success of any new portal.

Ismayil comments: “Listing on property portals is one of the largest lead-generation costs for agents and it is increasing every year. We are building the first search engine that not only doesn’t charge agents but pays them for their listing if we can monetise it. We make money when agents make money.”

OneDome launched its first product Locality Reality in December 2016, then in 2017 created a suite of products for agents consisting of booking tools, portal autoresponder and a platform connecting with conveyancing. Last year it set up a digital platform providing clients with live status updates of the conveyancing process to all key stakeholders involved.

You can see the brand new portal here.

New property portal launches with revolutionary business model

New property portal launches with revolutionary business model

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    PropertyHeads launched last year and has a very similar business model.

  • Michael Riley

    Free text search is hardly new.. Tulia launched in the US with it over a decade ago. It sounds like a good idea, but actually just confuses buyers who dont like the ambiguity.

    The key with all portals is how they generate the traffic, not how they get the listings. So, it will be interesting to see what the plan for that is....

    If i recall other portal sites that scraped agents websites had appaling quality control without of date listings etc.

    But good luck, sounds interesting.

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    • 28 February 2019 07:46 AM

    This genuinely looks better than rightmove and zoopla. Will be interesting to see where this goes. When do you think you'll be in Manchester?

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    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for your kind comments.
    Just to clarify the free text search on its own isn't the main point. We built it as free text as a solution to the requests from our user testing.
    When we asked consumers what they wanted out of their portal experience, their answer was "more filters". Obviously building an interface with 100 filters would be suboptimal, so we had to come up with an alternative solution. Our free text isn't just based on "keyword search".
    Free text search is backed up by the NLP engine that we have been training for a while now and by our Locality Reality algorithms that we have been testing with users for 2 years. LR scores every individual property based on a number of criteria consumers care about when they think about the property like the availability of good schools, groceries, parks, transport etc.
    Our search engine is in its infancy but will allow consumers to search by their needs rather than by location. As people search more and more it will get better and better in recognising certain patterns in consumer behaviour. We have embedded a lot of different technology solutions to test and understand consumer behaviour.
    The main problem we aim to solve is how to make the property buying process simpler and easier for every party involved. We believe the only way to achieve that is by building a collaborative communication platform allowing all key stakeholders in any given transaction to collaborate. None of the major portals has focused on that part of the user journey which we know, based on various research pieces and surveys, is the most stressful part of the process. We don’t claim to be able to fix all of the issues consumers have with a property transaction in one go, but we are certainly committed to making it happen and we have over 40 strong product and engineering team to support that goal.

    We have a long pipeline of products that we will be bringing to the market after the initial beta phase which we will make public in due course.

    Michael Riley

    Thank you for the repsonse. All sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing what traction it gets. Best of luck.

     
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    • 28 February 2019 08:51 AM

    It seems like a no brainer, especially if it's free for a 100 years, how do I sign up?

  • Iain  White

    This is how it should be , this works for the consumer and the agent as a partnership

    Watch this space

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    My main concern is over GDPR as we are sharing data (whether we want to or not) and onedome will be contacting them to monetise (unless i have missed something).

    How do you go about making sure the data you are using is protected and more importantly the data you get from the agent is protected so us as agents don't fall foul?

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    Daniel,

    Thanks for raising GDPR. It is of course absolutely essential to make sure that anything we do is fully GDPR compliant, and that consumers and agents are comfortable with how we handle data. We have our own in-house legal team to make sure we do this right.

    Our responsibility as a data processor on behalf of agents can be found in our terms and conditions, I don't think I can post a link here but data is under section 8. Consumer permission is sought when they set up their account and meets all GDPR requirements.

    If you can’t find what you need, feel free to drop us a note with any specific questions at support@onedome.com.

     
  • Faisal Abdallah

    Few days ago there was an article right here saying competing with RightMove and Zoopla is a waste of time and money. Looking at the team , resources behind this startup and their business model , this startup sounds interesting.

  • Mal McCallion

    It's been nearly a quarter of a century since the first property portal, Propertyfinder.com, launched in 1995. I've worked in a few over the years and very little has changed in the search model since then, aside from monthly fees.

    This is a genuine attempt to change that - "revolutionary", as Graham's headline says - by redistributing revenues earned from agents' listings back to them. Fair, transparent and collaborative. What proptech should always be.

    (Disclosure: I work as an advisor to OneDome - one of the reasons is because they do this kind of inspirational, game-changing stuff.)

  • Bruce  Patterson

    Anything that challenges Rightmove gets my vote
    Good luck guys

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