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By Graham Norwood

Editor, EAT, LAT & LLT

Graham Awards

OTHER FEATURES

Boomin - What’s the verdict?

The launch of Boomin has been and gone with, perhaps, something less than its expected fanfare of publicity.

Of course there are the prime time TV advertisements and - probably more influential - the YouTube and social media messages.

However, news of the launch- even when it came a day early, before the Easter break - produced far fewer ‘reads’ on Estate Agent Today than recent stories about Stamp Duty or Capital Gains Tax. The Negotiator didn’t cover the launch itself at all, and on Property Industry Eye the story got fewer than half the reads of its April Fool.

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That’s not a reflection on Boomin but, perhaps, suggests that everything everyone wants to say about yet another portal and about Michael Bruce’s history in the industry has been said - although the relatively few comments made in the trade press suggest the Purplebricks anti-agent image still hurts many.

So what’s the verdict on the new portal? I’ve tried to sound out a few industry voices who have not already made clear they are vehemently against or for Boomin, and who to my knowledge have no financial vested interest in them or rival portals.

There have been many responses although, alas, few on the record.

While there is almost complete unanimity that the portal looks good, has strong functionality and appears amazingly glitch-free straight out of the box, there are different views about different elements - none more than the controversial MatchMaker feature.

Boomin itself describes MatchMaker this way: “[It] is 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.”

There are two strongly divergent views. Several agents have been in touch about it, but here are two direct quotes which reflect the different opinions.

“It’s ultimately a bid to cut out estate agents. People register, have their interest expressed to owners in a street, and then wait for responses which could by-pass the agents and direct negotiations begin between buyer and seller. This could be estate agent turkeys voting for Boomin’s Christmas” - (agency owner, contacting EAT).

“The killer features 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” - Russell Quirk (ex-Emoov, now Keller Williams UK).

Boomin, it’s worth remembering, pledges it will never ‘go around’ agents and that instead the MatchMaker feature could create new business. The issue was raised by agents themselves, and the Guild of Property Professionals as a block, at some of the Bruce Brothers’ explanatory webinars in recent months, and indicates enduring suspicion following Purplebricks’ early years.

The second area that concerns agents contacting EAT is the simple one - Boomin has relatively few listings and not so many agencies on board, at least yet.

In early March, Boomin claimed it had some 5,000 agency branches on board - it quoted the same figure for its launch, a month later. Zoopla last week said it had 19,500 including new homes listers, and in February Rightmove reported 19,197 (again including new homes) after a three per cent fall during 2020.

My own personal search looked at an active urban area I chose, which on the ground has five different agencies’ offices within a short distance of each other. Boomin had only one of those agencies registered, and inevitably had only limited stock.

There’s no shame attached to that, because Boomin is new and that particular agency is stronger in other locations outside of my search area - but if a consumer looks at Boomin and sees such a small selection of stock and effectively only one agent for their chosen location, surely they would then look on Rightmove or Zoopla and see many, many more.

Would they then bother to return to Boomin, a while later when they wanted to search again?

Again, here are two agents with divergent views - both wanted to be off the record, alas.

“The small inventory isn’t a problem. You’re not going to beat Rightmove in a sprint, but only in a marathon, so having a big marketing budget for ads will make it clear to other agents they should get on board - that way, a critical mass of listings is eventually built.”

The contrary view was expressed this way:

“Who needs a fourth major portal? Rightmove is so entrenched it renders the others almost unnecessary. If the public still uses Rightmove in record numbers, and hardly any agents defected during the campaigns against it last year, why would you spend money and time listing on yet another portal? There isn’t any need for it.”

To review something as complex and market-dependent as a property portal after just 48 hours of public visibility may be both unfair and unwise - things will change, and quickly.

But so far, what do YOU think? Is Boomin a game-changer for agents? Should Rightmove and Zoopla be worried? Would a much-speculated merger with OnTheMarket see Boomin suddenly become a serious contender? Please let us know in your comments below. 

*Editor of Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property at @PropertyJourn

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    We have not had a single lead from it yet.. and as we are one of just two agents in our local area on it, I doubt it will take off in our town.

    Also, when searching our town, it drags in properties from 20 miles either way, which only highlights the lack of agents/properties in my eyes.

  • Michael Day

    It is clearly too early to judge.

    The current inventory is understandably low and Boomin will need to work hard to win agents and consumers in the coming weeks. Each group will help grow the other.

    Full integration with CRMs will be vital - currently that functionally at launch is limited.

    The “bells and whistles” that Boomin offers will also take time to be understood by both agents and consumers - I feel they are steps in the right direction but that there are stronger ways of gaining engagement, lifetime relationships and monetising traffic - we will see.

    None of the major competition in the portal market will be standing still with new marketing and investment in new technology sectors, products and services coming to the fore.

    Inevitably the excellent Boomin PR and marketing machine will be putting out positive messages in the coming days and, hopefully, we will be able to monitor facts not just hyperbole.

    We live in interesting times.



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    Shocking search results. Properties displayed from more than 20 miles outside of the search area chosen.

    Also, all North Lincolnshire area properties are shown as South Humberside. Humberside was abolished in 1996!

    Very poor on both fronts after so much hype about the quality of technical staff employed.

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    My main concern is the Trojan Horse matchmaker. Unsurprisingly Boomin are being far less subtle and hiding this in plain sight. A tool that matches buyers with potential sellers with the definite ability to bypass 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.

  • Mark Walmsley

    Obvious from the offset.

  • Murray Lee

    Lets just give it a chance, Rome wasnt built in a day was it?

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    Rome wasn't built by the Bruce Brothers either., for which we are all truly grateful.

     
  • Mark Walmsley

    Cracker Time:

    Q: “How many portals does it take to sell a house or charge an agent to sell a house?”
    A: “How many do you want?”


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    Such an echo chamber going on here, the industry talking to itself and ignoring their customers.

    The portal which will win in the long run is the one that gives customers what they want. Proper search based based on detailed listings for things like gardens, en suites, parking (not just loose text searches that may or may not match en-suite with en suite or ensuite), an ability to "hide" properties you've already looked at from search results (which zoopla have inexplicably removed and Rightmove only allow on their list of results, not from the map or the listing itself) and the ability to report listings that are just wrong (flats appearing in searches for houses, or the wrong number of bedrooms).

    It's about customer experience. It's that simple. Get that right and you win eyeballs, and when you have the eyeballs the agents will follow.

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