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New property portal “OnTheMarket” blow to consumers

From the end of January a new property portal "On The Market" will launch, splitting the marketing of your property between Rightmove and Zoopla. We explain what's happening, why it's bad news for consumers and what you can do...

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What’s the story? 

Selling your home involves a complicated set of decisions. Well, it’s just about to get trickier thanks to a grudge match between estate agents, reported in this week’s Sunday Times.

In January a new online portal will be launched called On the Market. Founded by reputable national estate agents including Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons and others it has been created to break up the duopoly created by Rightmove and Zoopla.

So, what’s the problem?

Initially we thought this was good news. But if your estate agent wants to market your property through they must drop at least one of the “big two”. So, as the Sunday Times article points out “if you sell your home through an OnTheMarket agency, it may drop, say, the well-known Rightmove — which carries about 1.2m homes for sale, and receives 90m hits a month — in favour of the new and largely unheard-of portal.”

Not only that but OntheMarket has also banned on-line agents. This affordable online option for selling your home has been growing in popularity in recent years, fuelled most recently by programmes like How to Sell Your Home with Sarah Beeny.

Commenting on the new portal Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance said:

“Sadly, the creation of OntheMarket is all about protecting estate agent’s market share and profits and nothing about helping homeowners get a better deal. When selling your home from next year you won’t be able to have access to all the portals with certain estate agents because OnTheMarket is working it so that those agents cannot advertise a home with both Rightmove and Zoopla. That restricts the number of potential buyers homeowners can market their house to. This in turn will impact the speed of sale and getting the right price. Another rotten deal for homeowners that lines estate agents pockets.”

She added “OnTheMarket also won’t allow low-cost, online agents to advertise which rules out a complete market of affordable options for selling your home. We are very against this practice and think it is anti-competitive.”

Finally, OntheMarket will not include any additional features such as valuation tools that estimate the price of homes by neighbourhood for instance – essential tools that help buyers and sellers make informed decisions.

What should I do?

We advise that homeowners looking to sell their home from January choose their estate agent very carefully: most importantly look at the contract for unfair terms, and ask questions about how and where they will be marketing your home. Sellers who want to achieve the best possible price in the quickest possible time will want their home to have the widest exposure online.

So, from 26 January you’ll want to ask your estate agent:

  • will you be marketing my house through OntheMarket?
  • who else will you be using: Rightmove or Zoopla?

And then decide if you are content with whichever mix of portals they are using.

As a guide, the Sunday Times reported that Rightmove has 1.2m and Zoopla 1m homes listed. OntheMarket predicts “hundreds of thousands”.

So in the short term at least,  you’ll want to find an agent who still lists with Rightmove AND Zoopla if you can. Our comparison table shows you which online agents do but you’ll have to check with individual high street agents. Things may change over time as OntheMarket builds up listings and brand awareness.

It may also help to know that some property insiders think Zoopla are predominantly used by buyers to search for London properties, while Rightmove is used more outside the capital.

Time to improve Estate Agents’ image?

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Our 2013 YouGov Poll showed homeowners trusted estate agents least out of all the property professionals

OntheMarket could still come to the rescue of homesellers and buyers and improve the reputation of estate agents across the board.

It’s not too late to amend their operating policy to give homeowners more choice.

We would love to see the company:

– Go head to head with Rightmove and Zoopla without a policy that restricts agents to one or two portals, and

– Give consumers real choice and allow online agents in on the party.

Estate agent top tips


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