The Portal Battle Rumbles On

Estate agents are obsessed with property portals.

These ground breaking websites developed in the mid 90s gave us a really viable alternative to incredibly expensive newspaper advertising at the time, and as the internet grew, offered better and better value.

The real game changer was the advent of broadband which meant picture-heavy property sites could load quickly and easily onto people's home and office desktops.

The next big innovation, wireless, helped people look for properties on laptops wherever they were. And of course the advent of mobiles and tablets using 3G and 4G mean that we are never away from being able to check out the price of our neighbour's house!

Agents now have a real love-hate relationship with portals in that they offer the best source of enquiries and a great place to showcase your property as well as your brand, but prices are no longer reasonable compared to newspapers. In fact, they're far more expensive.

We would estimate that an average estate agent pays each portal something in the region of £1,500 per month.

Rightmove, the biggest and best known portal, has enjoyed something of a near monopoly for many years being a clear market leader. Zoopla, it's nearest competitor, was way below in terms of stock, visits to the site, etc. and so went on a buying spree a few years ago to increase its market share swallowing up other smaller competing portals.

So we got to a point where there were two main players, which didn't give agents much choice especially when most sellers expect representation on both.

Then came along OnTheMarket developed by some large London estate agents. And the idea was that it was going to break the duopoly of Zoopla and Rightmove, and using what seemed like a good idea at that time to avoid agents then having to register on three sites, they insisted that they could only be on one other major portal.

Agents flocked to OnTheMarket usually dropping Zoopla, the less used of the two competing portals.

We weren't quite so hasty and decided to stick with both Rightmove and Zoopla instead.

Although it would have been a great cost saving moving to OnTheMarket, we knew that it would take months if not years for OnTheMarket to gain a market share.

Until it did, seller would not have their property shown to the most number of people. And as we all know, the more people know something is for sale, the more likely it is to sell.

We're constantly reviewing this decision to make sure that we're offering sellers the best of all of the portals and at the time of writing it looks like this is still the case even all these months on from the launch of OnTheMarket.

On the regular basis we pretend to be buyers.

 We go into all of the portals and we compare stock. So, for example, on the 17th May we looked for a 2-3 bedroom house in Worthing (plus 1 mile) around between £220,000 and £300,000.

OnTheMarket have 71, Zoopla have 93, RightMove 127. Rightmove's domination is still there with almost double the stock of OTM and Zoopla in a closer second place. Yet many estate agents still love OnTheMarket, because it's cheap.

The important question is, do buyers love it quite so much?
In a recent survey the public were asked to name a portal. OTM scored very low.

The app isn’t as popular as the two competitors. It doesn’t receive as many hits online.

That’s why we are sticking with Zoopla and Rightmove. If you’re a seller, don’t you want your property to be seen be more people?

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