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OnTheMarket founder spills beans on fees, Rightmove and Springett

The founder of OnTheMarket has revealed why the portal floated on the stock market and why Ian Springett was the right man at the top - until it was time for him to go earlier this year.

Trevor Abrahmsohn, one of the industry’s most flamboyant figures and founder of high-end London firm Glentree Estates, called 20 of the country’s leading agencies together for a secret meeting some nine years ago.

The meeting was triggered by Abrahmsohn being confronted at that time by a 50 per cent increase in fees by Zoopla: the meeting led to the creation of Agents’ Mutual and the mutually-operated portal OnTheMarket.


Now, in a video interview with the industry commentator Chris Watkin, Abrahmsohn explains the thinking behind OnTheMarket’s controversial one-other-portal-only rule, reveals why Ian Springett was in his opinion the right person to be chief executive and, controversially, why early this year was the right time for Springett to suddenly go.

Abrahmsohn - whose Glentree Estates agency is currently listing with Rightmove and Zoopla as well as OTM - also speaks about the Say No To Rightmove campaign and his decision making process about whether to delist from the number one portal when the 75 per cent discount ends in some 11 weeks time.

The agent says if it wasn’t for the existence of OnTheMarket the current offers to agents from both Rightmove and Zoopla simply wouldn’t have happened.

The video interview (below) is some 30 minutes long and well worth agents’ time for an insight into the creation of OTM - many of these details are revealed for the first time.

Our thanks to Chris Watkin for giving this video exclusively to Estate Agent Today readers.

  • Murray Lee

    Thanks to Trevor and Chris for putting this together. !

  • Michael Day

    Interesting interview.

    I have the utmost respect for Trevor although this would increase if his actions matched his words.

    He espouces not needing three portals and the benefits of OTM vs Rightmove and Zoopla yet Glentree continue to list on all three, presumably because commercially it makes sense to do so.

  • Chris Arnold

    Agree with most of what Trevor articulates. However, now that Rightmove own all the data, so generously supplied by agencies, they also hold a proverbial gun to the head of those agencies by virtue of the fact that they are more than capable of cutting out the middleman and selling direct to the consumer.
    That power allows them to squeeze the agents until the time is right for the portal to change tack.
    I'm sure they've modelled the scenario, whilst claiming all along that this is never their intention.

    Kudos to the initiatives that seek to disrupt that stranglehold, but it requires more than discontent, or agencies going out of business. It requires unification. Agencies perceive RM as a lifeline and that they are part of a collective whole. To breach that fortress, one cannot rely on enthusiasm, or persuasion, or simply discontent.
    It requires the elevation of dogma above reason. Rightmove has persuaded their agents to not think - to automatically list. Any movement that intends to disrupt the model must first make agents dependent on something else. At present, no portal meets the challenge.


    I don't agree Chris. We have dropped Rightmove as we were getting far more quality leads from OTM and at a much more reasonable cost.

  • icon

    The question is in many markets with a clear number one in consumers minds,
    Would you get their listing and all their data without listing on the number one ???

  • Richard Copus

    Something has to give at some point. Rightmove, and to a lesser extent Zoopla are perfectly set to sell direct to the consumer. This country is unique in Europe that estate agents are instructed to sell the vast majority of houses. As an industry, we rarely look at what is going on outside our borders and this blinkered attitude could be our downfall if we are not careful. If you take a look at France, our nearest neighbour and a favourite with British house hunters, Le Bon Coin is the equivalent of Rightmove with Se Loger coming up second similarly to Zoopla. Le Bon Coin is effectively a classified ads portal as well. Virtually everyone uses it when they are looking for a property to buy. British people who are looking to buy in France seem to love it. One said: "It is quick and simple. The owners posted details of their property on the site [easy to do with new quality mobile phone cameras] and we went around to visit it." A successful transaction ensued. All it needs is some national advertising from the Big Boy encouraging people to list direct and save money and there will be a flood of sellers by-passing us. This is where the art of negotiating comes in - probably the most important thing that agents do and our least marketed skill - particularly important in our legal system to keep sales together. Rightmove is an ogre and like all ogres is dangerous!

  • icon

    And let's not forget French commissions are over the top!!!
    Shld be first to go

  • Andrew Goldthorpe

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davies, "Well he would, wouldn't he". With respect, it would come across better if Mr Abrahamson sold his shares in OTM and came off Zoopla and Rightmove.

    Mr Abrahamson's apparent belief that "institutions" are the only means of getting a challenger up and running simply confirms, in my mind, that OTM was set up from the start to be floated, particularly with regard to the reference to a former employee who had no experience of Mutuality but plenty experience of floating a portal on the stock market. This, along with marketing conditions and long term lock-in contracts made OTM about as un-mutual as you can get and rang sufficient alarm bells for so many agents that OTM was a car crash as a mutual. To claim that, as a PLC, it is the agent's friend when institutions now have significant control (well over 25% but currently less than 50% but for how long?), when agents were sold the same line by Zoopla and Rightmove does not float anymore.

    I agree it is not easy to get appropriate backing for a Mutual, which is why PropertyMutual has remained stubbornly 100% independent, but there are plenty of Social Impact, Mutual and co-operative institutions that are available to assist Mutuals from start-up through to sustainability. Indeed, I have been approached by a co-operative society this morning. Quite frankly, if the AM Board had genuinely wanted to create a long-term mutual, they could have done it.

    I believe legitimate and ethical Mutuality is a model whose time has come as my interview in The Negotiator today with Chris Watkins attempts to explain, albeit in a 10 minute soundbite.

  • Simon Shinerock

    Trevor, I can now understand why you are such a great agent. I’m pretty sure you could make crops grow in the dessert and possibly even turn base metal into gold. Of course history doesn’t really support your analysis, I should know as I was exposed to the unpleasant side of OTM from the start. Fairly recently we approached OTM to see if things had changed, they hadn’t. We were initially told the ‘free’ offer was over and then when we showed it wasn’t we were told ‘it is for you’ this apparently came from the top. FYI, if I had been treated fairly from the start I wouldn’t have been such an antagonist, however I had the temerity to say I disagreed with the attack Zoopla policy and was banned from an open meeting to which I was already invited. As I have said, I’m sure you always land on your feet, others have paid dearly for OTM’s mistakes


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