Zoopla is to remove aggregators of private seller and landlord listings, and which do not provide agency services, from its sites.
It will expel those already on the sites and ban any that try to get on in future.
The move comes after mounting disquiet by agents and a ban by Agents’ Mutual on aggregators.
Only days ago Michael Stoop of Legal & General’s Xperience criticised the big portals for allowing “what are, essentially, non-agent businesses listing properties alongside those of full-service agents”.
Zoopla Property Group, headed by Alex Chesterman, has now thrown down the gauntlet and given an answer to agents worried about the creep of private advertisers on to portals.
It has announced new advertising criteria, in a move specifically designed to prevent aggregators from listing on its websites.
In future, Zoopla will only accept listings from businesses that meet these new guidelines and which are operating as bona-fide estate or letting agents, offering a full range of agency services.
The new guidelines will require businesses that advertise on the Zoopla Property Group websites to:
* operate as an estate or letting agent, not a pure aggregator
* prepare property details on behalf of the vendor or landlord
* handle enquiries directly with no call forwarding to “principal”, ie the landlord or vendor
* act as an intermediary between the parties during transaction
* not provide a ‘listing only’ service as a back door to private sellers and landlords using portals.
There are currently a small number of advertisers on ZPG that do not meet the new guidelines, said Zoopla.
These businesses – which may term themselves “agents” – will be given until the end of the year to conform or will be removed from the platform.
Zoopla would not comment on specific names that face being kicked off the sites.
However, a spokesperson said: “We are carefully reviewing the business models of all members to ensure that they comply with our new guidelines.
“We will be advising any that don’t of what changes would need to be made by them in order to remain on our sites.
“Any party that is no longer a member will be prevented from using our brands in their marketing materials or on their websites. We have set up a dedicated compliance team to monitor these businesses and also ensure that all members are only advertising properties that are currently available.”
Even before its latest statement, Zoopla had already said it would still not allow the Sarah Beeny site Tepilo to advertise, despite its relaunch from a private sales site to being an online agent.
Tepilo is, however, on Rightmove, where its message is: “Our aim is to reduce your costs and give you more control, because we think the best person to know how a home should be sold is often the person who owns it.”
A spokesperson for Rightmove told us: “Tepilo has been through our vetting process to identify that they work within Rightmove terms and conditions of membership as well as any industry rules and regulations.”
ZPG has also announced it is clamping down on agents who do not remove old listings.
It said the single biggest complaint from users is in relation to listings being advertised but no longer available. A dedicated compliance team has been given sole responsibility to check listing quality and validity and remove ‘ghost’ and/or ‘expired’ listings.
Chesterman said: “Our aim is to provide a high-quality service to the users of our websites in terms of both content and experience.
“We believe that can currently only be achieved through professional agents preparing listing details and intermediating consumer enquiries.
“We will not accept listings from private vendors or landlords or pure aggregators of either.”