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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Say No To Rightmove campaign says 'list on Zoopla, support OTM'

The Say No To Rightmove campaign has set out strategy suggestions for independent agents facing steep portal bills.

A 10-page document reveals that SNTR now has 3,300 branches representing some 1,750 agents and campaign leader Rob Sargent - chief executive of the Acorn Group, a 36-branch company - makes a passionate case for rebels to join his campaign.

And on page eight of the document he for the first time squarely faces the question as to what agents should do if Rightmove fails to offer a long-term strategy of what he calls “fairer fees.” 

Sargent warns that doing nothing means that Rightmove will continue its dominance and resume its usual pricing.

“There is also a risk that if Zoopla emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown materially stronger and OnTheMarket is unable to keep up the pace, the duopoly will be re-established" he warns.

Therefore he urges independent agents to:

- leave Rightmove;

- support OnTheMarket; 

- list on Zoopla; and

- drive their own brands, websites and marketing.

“A small independent agent adopting this strategy from August 1 2020 would, on current information, pay only OnTheMarket’s tariff fees whilst listing on Zoopla for free until April 2021” writes Sargent in the document.

He continues: "Our assessment is that for OnTheMarket to be a strong player, every agent listing on it needs to be prepared to pay their full tariff fees. From April 2021 onwards, both OnTheMarket and Zoopla fees would be based on the contracts entered into." 

Although this is the most precise the SNTR campaign has been in terms of advocating a course of action, Sargent’s document emphasises that the campaign understands this may not be right for every agent - and that there is an element of risk for agents.

And he suggests the course of action may change if Rightmove adopts a different long-term pricing strategy.

But he concludes that SNTR will continue to consult its members “to assess their level of appetite for leaving Rightmove now, on the assumption that Rightmove do not respond to the lobbying of the industry to extend their discount and propose longer term changes to tariff and client relationships.”

You can see the full 10 page document here.

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    I honestly don't know why agents are hesitating with regards to throwing in the Rightmove towel. We are enjoying the £1700 we are saving by having left, are getting just as many leads and haven't lost any sellers when I've told them we are no longer on Rightmove and, importantly, we're getting just as many buyer leads (thanks OTM). Kerching!!

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    Left last year, our experience exactly the same.

     
  • Andrew Goldthorpe

    OTM PLC should have been a "wholly" owned mutual forever, but it is now only a "majority" agent-owned PLC. At launch, OTM PLC was approximately 70% agent owned, but already, depending on whose numbers you believe, that is down to 60% - 65% agent owned. A PLC Board must work solely in the best interests of shareholders so seeking "assurances", as agents did from Rightmove PLC, is by no means certain. Who do you think has more sway, financial institutions promising to invest millions in return for more profit, or independent agents?

    35% - 40% of OTM PLC is already owned by institutions and non-agent investors. They only need 51% to have majority control. Because it is a PLC, OTM is undoubtedly driven primarily by the interests of its institutional shareholders. These investors have a say in setting the direction of the business which has implications for revenue targets and thus subscriptions. Should OTM PLC make future profits, these investors will be entitled to 35%-40% of these profits. Crucially, OTM PLC and its shareholders also have control over agents’ data, an extremely dangerous thing in my view, if agents want to avoid being owned outright by a "for-profit" business.

    Zoopla may have "re-positioned itself" and been forced to become more competitive, but it is 100% private equity owned so 100% of profits go to investors, not agents, and agents control 0% of the data they are giving away. Of course Zoopla has positioned itself as a supporter of independent agents...

    I believe, that as sure as night follows day, OTM PLC will have to go the same way as Rightmove PLC and Zoopla PLC did. When a company is listed on the stock market and starts gaining momentum, institutions pile in, agent share ownership gets diluted, ultimately below 50% as happened with Rightmove PLC (100% investor owned) and Zoopla PLC (100% investor owned), and greed always wins.

    It is my view that agents should only support a 100% agent owned business and simply STOP propping up corporate portals. Investment in such a wholly owned mutual would allow agents to create virtually whole of market inventory, have a year on year multi-million marketing budget without giving away any ownership or control and, who knows, even engineer a reverse takeover of OTM PLC and take it back to being the 100% agent owned mutual it should always have remained.

    This report, as I feared, is very disappointing for the challenger portals. SNTRM appears to be focused entirely on making a more competitive "corporate" portals market. These exciting and disruptive new challengers, all of whom no doubt think they have the solution to the portal crisis, are effectively dismissed with a token mention based on the premise that if three corporate portals decide to behave themselves (don't hold your breath), these challengers are expected to compete for the crumbs left over out of agents already hard pressed marketing budgets.

    Please can all future SNTRM announcements start with a disclaimer breaking down the per centage of OTM shareholders making up their office membership so far? It is not enough for Mr Sargent to announce that only his business is an OTM shareholder.

  • Wynne Davies

    I don't understand why agents are hesitating . We gave notice in April and enjoying the savings we are making. We still get the same amount of leads and the money we've saved has been put towards marketing. If you do nothing, then nothing will change. Now, is the best time to leave. I don't think you will regret it.

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    In my area, Rightmove accounts for 75% of all sales and lettings leads and provides an excellent return on investment. I expect the agents that have joined SNTRM are able to survive purely on Zoopla and On The Market's leads alone. I appreciate and respect that but in my area, it would not work due to current market share. I'd need to see evidence that the other portals are certain to achieve a better return on investment for me to stop investing with Rightmove. I'm all for fighting, disrupting, rebelling so I'll keep my options open when that evidence is presented.

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