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Are these the first cracks in the reign of the portals?

In this piece, the team at Iceberg Digital look at whether the first cracks are appearing in the portals.

For the last 20 years agents have been using portals as their primary source of selling and letting properties and gradually over that time the portals have managed to cash in on that fact, much to the displeasure of some agents.

But a small group of agents based in different parts of the country have, with some scepticism, been trying a new way to remove their reliance on the portals and the results are showing some surprisingly promising signs with some or even all of the big three portals now becoming their secondary source of enquiries behind their own brand, giving those agents options and negotiating power with the portals safe in the knowledge that their primary source is no longer in danger of being taken away from them as it is their own brand.


So how are agents doing this and what are the actual numbers?

It is being done through a system called Lifesycle, that gives agents the ability to have all of the great features of a portal in terms of automatically letting the public set up property alerts, etc, but specifically for the agent's company, meaning that those agents are able to tell the public that properties launch to their system first and in turn, more and more people hear about it and more and more registrations come in, creating an ever-increasing spread.

Sounds good in theory but does it work?

Steve Beercock, director of nine-branch company in Hull called Beercocks, says:

“As a nine-branch estate agency, we have become not only very reliant on Rightmove and Zoopla over the years but also, they have become by far our biggest expense. Whilst that is not a problem because they still generate us a good number of leads that lead to us selling our properties, we are always interested to see how we might start to make ourselves become less reliant on their service to gain back some of our leverage.

"When I was told that Lifesycle could start to give me a solution to this problem, I immediately dismissed it as just another bold claim. I don’t think I would’ve ever believed it until I saw it with my own eyes and now Lifesycle outstrips both Rightmove and Zoopla in terms of leads for our properties in some of our branches and I am fully confident this will become normal in all our branches over time. That does not necessarily mean that I want to leave the portals, but it certainly gives me more options and makes us more powerful as a brand.”

It also does not seem to be size specific, with James Burgess from two branch estate agency, Elliott Lee, in London saying something similar:

“Since starting with Lifesycle 2 12 months ago, where our lead generation was 100% from portal enquiries initially, we are now at a point where our own brand is generating as many if not more enquiries over the course of a month when comparing to Rightmove or Zoopla.”

Meanwhile, Adam Yusuf from one branch agency Penrose in Luton said: “We are finding a gradual change of trends in terms of lead generation from the portals. For the first time this month, our website which is powered through Lifesycle has generated more sales leads than OnTheMarket and is gradually beginning to catch up with Zoopla. It’s going to be an interested year ahead to see if this trend continues.”

But haven’t we hard all this before? There are lots of agents who try to sell their properties via social media before the portals but it all seems so unquantifiable.

Mark Burgess, CEO of Iceberg Digital, the creators of Lifesycle, responds:

“Selling a property on Facebook is one thing but you are still reliant on Facebook, who can change the rules whenever they please. Lifesycle agents are using external sources to build THEIR OWN databases that only THEIR sellers and landlords have access to. They are then announcing properties via their own Lifesycle system and brand to their own unique database of people that are learning about things before they hit the portals and that is not reliant on any manual input, meaning every person gets told about every property that might work for them, every time no matter if they have just registered or have registered 6 months ago, similar to the type of alerts someone would set up on a portal.

“Lifesycle then compiles all of their enquiry stats into one dashboard so they can see the actual numbers of people that enquired from which source and that is how our agents can be so accurate with their findings.

“I first gave agents the concept that this could work for them in 2017, but the technology to do it did not exist. So, to have not only been able to build it, but to see it working with over 100 different brands, is incredibly rewarding for us. However, it is only part of a great plan that will help agents to not only have more sovereignty but to secure their future for the long term as the market contracts and the agents that are slower to innovate begin to fall away.”

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    Check out the cost of Lifesycle that these agents are paying in addition to the portals that they are unlikely to leave. The market isn't big enough to allow agents to support both (Lifesycle + portals).

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    That can easily be disputed when you see the huge growth Lifesycle users are seeing.

  • Alan Reid

    I think Propiti has a good solution to lead generation, and it removed the costs of the portals and an added CRM. I am bias though haha


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