OnTheMarket says one of its key aims for 2019 is to match Rightmove’s product offer to agents.
“We’re looking to match Rightmove’s product set that it provides for agents, and that means the introduction of more back office tools that are relied on by agents. We want to provide all of that functionality through OnTheMarket” says OTM chief executive Ian Springett.
He made the announcement during an interview with financial social media channel Director’s Talk, during which he also said OnTheMarket would this year provide unspecified “additional advertising products” which both Zoopla and Rightmove currently deliver.
Springett says other areas of development for the portal during 2019 will be growing the listings inventory by recruiting more agent members, and by moving into new homes sales - the latter is an area already contributing towards Zoopla’s and Rightmove’s stock, but which has so far been ignored by OTM.
In financial terms, Springett says OTM aims to achieve a monthly break-even status by the end of 2019; this is based on securing the conversion of many recently-joined agents from free or discounted contracts to full-tariff contracts.
The portal chief also used the interview to give an insight into what happens next following last month’s Court of Appeal decision. This upheld the earlier Competition Appeal Tribunal verdict, dismissing Gascoigne Halman’s challenge to the ‘one other portal only’ rule introduced by OnTheMarket some years ago.
Gascoigne Halman, a Connells-owned agency, had unsuccessfully alleged that OnTheMarket’s contract - delivered through what was then its parent firm, Agents’ Mutual’s - broke competition law.
“That [Court of Appeal] result clears the way of the potential downside risks to OnTheMarket from the litigation, and also takes away a major diversion of management time and resources” Springett says in the interview.
He continues: “So going forward there is a further piece of the litigation … we’ll be seeking recovery of our costs form the competition case and the remainder of the litigation could result in the award of damages to us, so we’re keen that the court hearing comes up as soon as possible.”
In a series of announcements last week OTM revealed it now had a listings stock which was over 80 per cent of the size of Zoopla and 60 per cent of Rightmove; in addition, traffic to its portal in January exceeded 23.5 million visits - as measured by Google analytics - which was a new monthly record.
OnTheMarket now has listings agreements with more than 12,500 estate and lettings agency branches.