A free-to-list property portal says that contrary to opinion within parts of the agency industry, the more portals there are the better.
Residential People - which says it has 740 independent agents in the UK on board - suggests that increased portal choices allow agents to reach a wider audience at local, national and international levels. Instead of having to ‘suck it up’ when portals increase their fees, innovative agents will think outside the box and look to rivals, it says.
In addition, it claims that consumer research suggests that vendors prefer to have their home advertised across multiple portals.
However, Residential People co-founder and director Christopher May says the proliferation of portals has defied the usual supply-and-demand rules leading to lower prices thanks to competition.
"Prices normally come down with competition, and to a degree, we have seen this with most property advertising platforms. The only exception to the rule here will be stock market listed companies as investors are looking for profits; therefore, prices are more likely to go up.”
Rightmove and OnTheMarket are listed on the stock market, while Zoopla was also a listed company until being acquired by a US firm last year.
The latest figures from Rightmove show that the key measurement - its Average Revenue Per Advertiser - hit an all-time high of £1,023 per agency branch each month.
"The cost of listing on Rightmove continues to rise, putting financial pressure on agents. This is why it's really important that there are low-cost alternatives now available" says May.
Despite more portals now than in recent years, some continue to impose restrictive rules, May claims.
"During our onboarding process with various agencies, we have noticed that some Customer Relationship Management companies are charging agents more if they market their properties on over two portals."
"Despite these barriers, there is still room for newcomers like us to come in and add value to an otherwise stagnating market."
May adds that portals are probably easier to use than using agents’ own databases, especially since the advent of GDPR and enhanced data protection.
"Establishing a database has become a lot tougher but if you are able to build a solid database, not only will you sell and let more properties, you will also win a lot more valuation requests" he says.
He says that in order to establish a strong brand on a local, national or international basis - and thus a good in-house database - it's key to be innovative.
"Many agents rely purely on boards to build their brand and while they do work particularly well in a localised area, they do have their drawbacks. They cost money and these days a lot of vendors don’t want a board outside their home when selling," he explains.
"It then comes back to having more choice. The more choice an agency has when it comes to marketing options, the more enquiries they can generate.
"It also allows them to build a bigger database of potential buyers, sellers, landlords and renters. Potential customers will gravitate to agents that have a big online presence as they realise effective online marketing is one of the most important factors when it comes to selling or letting a property in the modern age" May says.