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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

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Andrew Goldthorpe
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my expertise in the industry

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Andrew Goldthorpe
As soon as Rightmove announced its sale all those years ago, the original "contract" for mutual betterment between agent and business was broken. Despite this, the corporate propaganda juggernaut has been incredibly effective in persuading agents that the only way of marketing real estate is the 20 year old Rightmove model i.e. pay through the nose for the "privilege" of giving control of costs and data to investor led corporations. This behaviour is now so ingrained that agents are even gifting their data to unaccountable, so called "free" portals, and exit-strategised start ups, all of whom claim they will be the next Rightmove. Certainly since its de-mutualisation, OTM was locked on course to go the same way as Rightmove and Zoopla. The difference with OTM is that five years of cash burn, forgotten promises, and failure to overtake Zoopla has left not just a tainted legacy but most importantly a crystal clarity that copying the same IPO model successfully pitched to agents by Rightmove years ago and subsequently exploited by Zoopla is now old news and doomed to failure. As Mike DelPrete recently put it, trying to beat Rightmove is “at best expensive, at worst futile“. I would amend that statement to say, "trying to beat Rightmove at its own game is at best expensive and at worst futile". Whilst enormously saddened that agent members are the ones affected and disillusioned by the OTM de-mutualisation, the writing has been on the wall for some time. OTM v1 agents are now jumping ship, albeit back into the arms of the same investor led corporations they thought they were leaving five years ago. However, what Mr DelPrete missed in his recent article on UK portals and yet what Jefferies.com recently recognised, in their laser focused analysis of Rightmove and the UK portal market, is that only PropertyMutual's hybrid mutual business model has "an incredibly disruptive blueprint that would take the agency-portal relationship all the way back to its pure-play mutual roots"- Jefferies.com (12/2019). They go on to say, "New entrants like PropertyMutual have exactly the construct needed to return the industry back to a sustainable agency-backed model. But the challenge is to drive collective action: we think the cycle could be about to do just that." - Jefferies.com (12/2019). However, Jefferies most telling advice concerns Rightmove. "It is really only the agent’s fear of losing an instruction from not being on Rightmove that holds back the churn - the greatest threat to Rightmove is therefore collective action across the estate agency industry to communally break free of what has been described as “an abusive relationship”. Unless PropertyMutual rapidly can drive such groupthink, this isn’t imminently likely." - Jefferies.com (12/2019). In other words, agents must accept that nothing will change until they are willing to collectively abandon old methodolgies and start doing things differently. Agents have talked about taking collective action against the corporate duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla for years but lacked a model capable of delivering it. At the start of a new decade and in a particularly challenging market, I believe PropertyMutual's hybrid mutual business model is the idea whose time has come. After all, highly respected Mutuals have been delivering returns to members and yet retaining independence for over a century. Agents have a safe haven in PropertyMutual, as we are structured to never be for sale. Agents need to put OTM out of its misery and fund, own and run PropertyMutual, the original legitimate and ethical mutual that will always put its agent members first, is 100% independent and accountable, and is structured to deliver #collectiveaction by agents for #collectiveimpact. After all, the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result.

From: Andrew Goldthorpe 09 March 2020 11:01 AM

Andrew Goldthorpe
Hi Marcus It is down to what agents consider the right price. Is giving data gratis to a "free" portal the right price? What happens to that data when the advertisers and investors of that portal want to cash out? Most exit strategies for non-impact investment are of the order of three years. PropertyMutual curates and silos our agent's data in our data lake so that it cannot be exploited by unauthorised third parties. What about the investors in Agents' Mutual who signed five year contracts on the promise that they would never pay more than newcomers? What about the de-mutualisation and all the other broken promises, the cash burn and the increasing likelihood that more cash will need to be raised? This is why I believe the industry is looking at RMv2. OTM is on exactly the same journey. A legitimate mutual cannot and will not make rash promises and raise funds from any outside source as that would immediately de-legitimise the mutuality. That is why we grow organically, without locking agents into five year contracts at high subscriptions, burning through their cash, and then having to say "sorry, we ran out of money again". So is our current inventory growth subscription of £10 per month per office, the equivalent to a cup of coffee a week, the right price, the right investment in your future? The math, and our transparent staged subscriptions based on member numbers, suggests that if the industry would adopt PropertyMutual en-masse, the "right" solution to raising sufficient funds, entirely independently, on an annually recurring basis is in the industry's hands right now. Finally, PropertyMutual is a member of Social Enterprise UK and has a charitable assignment condition meaning we cannot be sold to profit individuals. We therefore trust that our ethics and credentials speak for themselves and are sufficient motivation for agents to subscribe, in the realisation that there is a better way to run a property marketing platform.

From: Andrew Goldthorpe 19 November 2019 11:27 AM

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