Zoopla has signed a deal with a major newspaper group, seemingly unaware of the group’s plans to simultaneously launch a property portal aimed at private landlords and which deliberately cuts out agents. Agents have reacted to the launch, by the London Evening Standard, with incredulity and anger.
Zoopla has done an exclusive deal to operate the property search facility for the Independent, London Evening Standard, and the London Evening Standard’s property website, Homesandproperty.co.uk, a spin-off from the paper’s weekly Homes & Property section.
Homes & Property’s main advertisers are agents, paying – one agent told us – several thousand pounds per page.
The Standard appears to have decided to take the risk of upsetting them by launching London Private Rentals, a website aimed directly at landlords and cutting out agents.
London Private Rentals is a free listing service for landlords, powered for the Standard by online letting agent Upad - for Upad, founded by London landlord James Davis, a huge coup. Geographically, the site covers the whole of London, plus East and West Sussex, Kent, Berkshire, Surrey, Essex, Bucks and Herts.
Mariella Petralia, divisional lettings director for Felicity J Lord, a regular advertiser in the Standard’s property supplement and which took out two pages last week – one for its sales properties and the other for its lettings – said: “I really can’t believe that the Evening Standard is launching such a website.”
Other agents who advertise in the London Evening Standard’s property section described the paper’s launch of a private landlords website as ‘astonishing’. None that we approached had known about it. Last week, the Standard’s Home & Properties section carried its usual ‘diary of an estate agent’ column, which we understand is paid for, written by lettings manager Damien Brown of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward.
While most of the estate agency adverts are for sale properties, all the agents who advertise also have large lettings divisions.
Meanwhile, the partnership with Zoopla went live on Friday, and was described by Zoopla as a clear win for both parties, and one which would benefit agents.
Alex Chesterman, founder & CEO of Zoopla said: “This partnership will drive significant value for our members.”
A Zoopla spokesman later said that the launch of London Private Rentals had ‘absolutely nothing’ to do with them.
There will be much more on this story, together with agents’ reactions, on our sister title, Letting Agent Today, tomorrow morning.