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Is this the beginning of the end for the portals?

It’s hard to remember a time at any point in the last 20 years when agents have been looking for a way to remove their reliance on portals more than in the past 12 months.

To date, however, the only solution seems to have been another portal, which is ultimately most likely to end up leading right back to the same situation further down the road.

It is not that huge companies are invincible - technology and innovation can disrupt even the biggest of businesses, but it is unlikely those businesses will be severely disrupted by something that is essentially the same business model.


Mark Burgess, CEO of Iceberg Digital, believes his firm’s estate agency software may have the answer agents are looking for.

“The reason that the public visit portals is to try and find their perfect property. It is not that they want to go to one place that holds all of the property information and search it every day, but rather that they want the property alerts to come to them,” he explains.

“They choose to do this on websites like Rightmove as most estate agents’ matching systems are at best poor, and at worst awful. Agents know this, too, and as such they upload properties to Rightmove ASAP.”

“Some agents have started to cotton on to the idea of launching properties to their own database or website first, before Rightmove. That is a good idea in theory, but unfortunately their matching systems are just not up to scratch for this to be viable as estate agency software does not allow people to register themselves using postcode, place name and radius. Therefore, agents end up matching based on very loose criteria and the buyer or tenant gets fed up and goes back to Rightmove,” says Burgess.

“What if the agent had better technology than the portals? What if a buyer or tenant could register directly into an agent’s software in the same way, or better than the way they would on Rightmove, and their software would not only automatically match and keep them updated of new properties and price reductions, but it would use the sort of technology that Netflix and Amazon use to suggest others they might like too?”

“All done without the agent needing to remember to run anything, but giving the agent the insights to see who is looking at what and when.”

“Suddenly it does become viable, or even normal, that an agent would match to their registrations before the property even hits the portals. In fact, it would just be happening automatically, giving the buyers and tenants a real reason to register with the most popular agents directly,” he adds.

Although some might argue that people are not going to want to search lots of different agents’ websites, Burgess says that if they are just receiving emails about properties that are of interest to them from various different agents they’re unlikely to mind. If anything, he says, it is saving them time.

Burgess continues: “Moving away from the portal as being the number one source to sell a property is not going to be an overnight change, but this concept is essential as sellers and landlords need to know that it is the agent who has the database of people they need to reach, not the portals.”

“Lifesycle has always been held in high regard as a marketing system to win new business and make an agent more money from that perspective, but having now added the functions that an agent would use one of the old CRM systems for, along with the magic of what new technology brings, it has become the only viable option for agents looking to build a secure business in the 2020s.”

Listen to Mark Burgess and Rob Brady debating the current state of the portals on the latest Estate Agency X Podcast here.


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