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OTM – is this the end of the Odyssey?

It is with no pleasure and a touch of sadness that I took in the significance of OTM's recent performance in terms of branches supporting their proposition.

In a fit of melancholy I wrote the following poem which – though full of pathos – has a message of hope for the industry...

Ode to OnTheMarket


OnTheMarket’s time is nigh
I say this with a heavy sigh
No one wants to see them die
Whatever people say not I
At least they had the guts to try

But dreams without a plan are dust
A pile of bits that turn to rust
Times they change and change we must
In new ideas we have to trust

New ideas for a new world now
Facebook and Google have shown us how
Learn the lesson make a vow
To worship not the sacred cow

High street agents must evolve 
There are puzzles we must solve 
To make ourselves the ones to choose
Not the ones who choose to lose

What brought on this wave of emotion and creativity was a recent analysis of branches and listings on the OTM website which reveals a notable drop in recent weeks with 60 fewer branches advertising and 5,000 fewer properties listed on October 18 than just four weeks prior. 

However, an even closer inspection reveals that of the 6,300 branches listed, 126 appear to be offices with no properties, 233 appear to be duplicates and 60 appear to be in the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland. 

So that brings the number of UK agent offices in at around 5,900, a long way short of all targets, despite the heavy discounting that has been going on in recent months. 

What's more, there are almost 1,000 offices listing fewer than 10 properties, which would suggest that smaller agents make up a significant proportion of recent joiners.

Perhaps the most telling statistic, though, is the one that suggests we are now past 'Peak OTM'. In other words, the absolute numbers of offices listing on the portal are now in decline. Added to this bleak picture you have to consider the well-publicised legal battles that are going on with some members alleging misrepresentation. All in all, this is not the outcome that was envisaged by the faithful getting on for two years after launch.

It may be too early to sound the death knell or write an obituary and maybe those behind OTM have an ace up their sleeve yet. After all, who am I to second guess the great and the good? 

Although one thing is beyond doubt, they have definitely failed to replace Zoopla as the number two portal and even the most optimistic assessment of current performance would rate their chances of doing so as vanishingly small. 

Actually, let's put this into perspective, from what I can see they have less than a fifth of the traffic of the number two portal and less than half the branches, despite claiming they would overtake them over a year ago. Well, I guess if you are going to go down, you may as well go down in flames!

OK, I will admit there is a touch of subtle irony in all this but as I have said it gives me no pleasure and little satisfaction to have been proven right in my assessment of OTM's likely effect on the market (no pun intended). 

If you want to read my prescient articles about the effect I thought OTM would have on the market (oops, sorry) they can be found here. That effect has so far been to strengthen Rightmove's position while forcing ZPG to adapt its proposition, which it has done remarkably well.

The important thing, though, is to stay positive. There is a future for the high street agent, we all need to learn from what has happened with OTM and come up with a more effective way of finding salvation and regaining control of our businesses. This will only be accomplished by looking to the future for solutions, not to the past at past glories.

*Simon Shinerock is Chairman of Choices Estate Agents. For more information on Simon, see his blog or his LinkedIn profile.

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    Not sure about your poetry Simon but your assessment is right. The fact that so many of their members are being held by the threat of legal action speaks volumes. Unfortunately for many (probably the majority) of their members, what goodwill existed has evaporated and they are looking for the nearest exit.

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    there is a sadness here for those who believed OTM's initial message and have been badly let down by them 

  • Simon Shinerock

    My next article I write will look forward; it's time for a plan that will work, it's time for independent agents to grasp the nettle, equip themselves with the right weapons and fight for their place in the new world

    Trevor Mealham

    The fight shouldn't be independents vs say corps. But a 'fight to unite' good agents to open the market. Accept, budgets have their race to the bottom, and that the rest could embrace collaboration and better B2B revenues

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    '60 appear to be in the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland' - what is the relevance of this point? Do Zoopla and RM not include agents in these locations in their totals??

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    I get this point: 'What's more, there are almost 1,000 offices listing fewer than 10 properties, which would suggest that smaller agents make up a significant proportion of recent joiners.' But again, I would suggest RM and Zoopla also include agents of this size in their figures.

  • Simon Shinerock

    I guess the point which is implied and applies to all portals, is that the total number of offices will always include the marginals, not so bad if you are Rightmove or Zoopla but of significance if your aim is to become the number 2 portal and have missed the mark

  • Iain  White

    Just for clarity neither Zoopla or Rightmove have any penetration in Northern Ireland they tried and failed. The market their is dominated by 2 portals one of which could teach the portals here a thing or two about how to treat its memeber agents

  • John Evans

    Am I right in saying Simon and Iain have a connection with Zoopla?

    Are you for portals who are looking to bleed agents nearly dry?

    OnTheMarket have done more in the first year than others in five years. Agents need to get behind OTM and make it a success, rather than be bullied by RM/Z

    If every agent left RM/Z today and joined OTM we would all still sell the same amount but have a lot more money in our pockets.

    Please be careful there are 'agents' on these websites who are paid by RM/Z I am not.

  • John Evans

    Simon you are a director of estateagenttoday .co.uk why can't this website be impartial and balanced?

    Simon Shinerock

    Like the Daily Mail you mean? These are my views, not those of Estate Agent Today, our journalists are independent and impartial as they should be. However, as an estate agent with an interest in the industry I believe I am entitled to express my view as are you. What I want is for estate agents to regain control of their businesses by moving with the times and I have tried my best to do something positive about that. In my view agents have so far played into the arms of the portals and that includes OTM whereas the real winners are focusing on their local market and on using the tools that are available to build a rapport with the players therein. There are many things agents can do to regain control of their businesses but in my view putting their faith in an agent owned portal with a backwards facing attitude isn't one of them

  • John Evans

    The daily mail is renowned for being a right wing newspaper, as this website will be an OTM bashing website. We all know your view but it has to be forced down our throats with a different slant on a weekly basis.

    Your statement above this reply is much more impartial and a completely different track to all your other posts. The only way agents can take back control of the way their stock is presented in a national portal is via OnTheMarket.com whose prime aim is to do the best for its paying customers rather than RM/Z whose only aim is to provide the biggest income they can for their shareholders.

    Simon Shinerock

    OWeekly? I think you have the wrong person John! Which makes me think you may not have read my articles on this subject. I have always been clear in my view about OTM, it could have worked better if it was more forward thinking, as it is, I'd say the facts now speak for themselves. If is a small word with a world of meaning, every agent has not supported OTM, neither it seems are they going to, actually only a minority have supported OTM and some of them have not been happy with what they ended up with. Time to look forward John, that's what I'm doing and that's what every agent who wants to prosper needs to do. The internet can be a liberating thing or an enslaving one depending on how you use it. My next article will not be about portals but how agents can thrive without being dependent on any dominant media outlet. BTW, I challenge you to name a main stream newspaper that does not have its own view, it's not just the Mail.


    The only problem with your argument John is that the losses an agent has suffered in reduced business outweighs every argument for supporting this stillborn venture, as an agent you cannot tell a client advertising with OTM is in their interest, because the only interest is the ego of OTM, who are now spending members money in the courts on forcing an agency group to stay on board, its no wonder agents who can are running a mile now! Simons opinion is simply voicing what everyone else is thinking..


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