Agents have contacted Estate Agent Today to say they fear the new MatchMaker service on the Boomin portal could be used as a Trojan Horse to by-pass agents - a claim Boomin vigorously denies.
The facility is by some way the most controversial and innovative on the new portal, which launched just ahead of the Easter weekend.
People who want to live in a particular road or neighbourhood can post a free advertisement on Boomin, at which point local agents publicise the fact to the residents of that location.
Boomin itself describes the MatchMaker service as “a unique service that helps buyers connect with homeowners who aren’t on the market. Simply place an advert pinpointing your dream locations and potential sellers can ask to be introduced, with the support of a professional local Estate Agent.”
But Michael Harvey, the owner of a small independent agency, calls this a Trojan Horse and left a comment on EAT saying: “A tool that matches buyers with potential sellers with the definite ability to by-pass agents in the future, and agents are paying for the site, providing it with content so it can grow and giving it marketing exposure. This could all end in tears.”
Other agents contacted EAT suggesting that MatchMaker was being more heavily promoted than other features of the new portal, effectively turning the Boomin site into a data-gathering service for the founders, who are of course former Purplebricks founders Michael and Kenny Bruce.
The threat of direct sales was an issue which led to a curious statement made two months ago when The Guild of Property Professionals gave the new portal a cautious welcome.
At the time The Guild issued a statement saying its support for Boomin “follows an agreement between the parties, that guarantees the integrity of data and its ownership rights, as well as the primacy of the agent/customer relationship.”
Michael Bruce followed this up with a statement at the same time saying the news service “has not, and will not, ever look to move to a direct model.”
However not everyone remains suspicious of the MatchMaker idea.
Russell Quirk, former chief executive of Emoov and now a Keller Williams UK franchise co-owner, told Estate Agent Today over the Easter weekend: “The killer features [of Boomin] for me are those that allow prospective buyers to show their interest in a street, that is then conveyed to sellers so that prospective buyer and seller are matched and deals done that otherwise perhaps would not have been.”
Yesterday Estate Agent Today was informed by Michael Bruce, executive chairman and founder of Boomin: “Our vision and business model is centred on the primacy of the agent/customer relationship and that will never change. The platform, which is now live for all to browse, provides a wealth of new features that equip agents with the tools to drive transaction volumes and build new income streams lasting beyond the transaction.
“Sneak Peak, Secret Property, Chainmaker and Matchmaker aim to bring more customers into the property market, boosting volumes for the benefit of our agent partners, while Property Playground and Priorities provide new income streams for agents outside of the property transaction itself.
“We have and will happily continue to state and reassure agents that we will never move to a direct model and this is clearly demonstrated in our agreement with estate agents. Boomin will always strive to provide agents and customers with the best experience through our commitment to ongoing innovation and return the balance of power in the industry back towards agents.”