Last week three estate agencies based in and around Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham launched a ‘local property portal’ platform that they believe has the best chance of taking on Rightmove and winning nationally.
The Negotiator Zoomed in to quiz one of the co-founders, Nigel Deekes of Acres.
Aren’t portals like LocalMove just knee-jerk reactions to Rightmove’s fee hikes?
Portal fees are very annoying, but I think most agents are more upset by the attitude that portals take towards agents and the outright monopoly that in particular Rightmove have.
If there was greater competition and a more even balance of power in the portal market, then it wouldn’t be so bad.
Agents feel like their hands are tied – it’s difficult to walk away from the big portals because if you do, you’re going to get hammered by your local competitors.
Me and another agent called Paul Carr first came up with the idea nearly 15 years ago because even then we realised that Rightmove had too much power.
But the time wasn’t right, and agents didn’t have the appetite to get involved. Rightmove were not seen as a big enough threat yet.
Since then, we’ve been waiting for the ideal time to launch LocalMove and a year ago Paul Carr, Greene & Company and [his company] Acres all agreed that the time HAD come, so we’ve working since then to get it ready.
Most people move within four or five miles of their existing homes so a national portal in reality isn’t really needed and therefore we’ve decided to focus on the ‘local’. Our strapline is going to be ‘Make the right move with LocalMove’.
We think Zoopla and OnTheMarket have not reached their potential and significantly weakening Rightmove and that Boomin won’t either.
Because they have all tried or are trying to be another big portal. You are not going to persuade agents to leave Rightmove on a national basis – everyone else is waiting for their local competitors to leave first.
Why will your idea work?
If I rang up an agent and said I’m from LocalMove then the receptionist would take my message, and no one would call me back.
If I called up one of my local competitors and said it’s Nigel from Acres, they’d take my call because they know me – and that’s how the LocalMove network will grow; by agents recommending it to each other.
Once agents begin to trust each other, even if you don’t like each other, then it is possible to for the main agents in a town or area to quit Rightmove safely, although some we’ve talked to have suggested a legally-binding agreement to cement it.
Sutton Coldfield is one thing, what about the rest of the UK?
In our local area, we are definitely leaving and between the three of us we will take 70%-80% of local listings with us to LocalMove and off Rightmove.
It will only be a matter of time before house hunters in the area notice Rightmove has just 20-30% of the inventory and begin using LocalMove, which we will promote via our marketing and branches, instead. People will always go where the properties are.
Once agents see it working in areas near them, then the idea will spread and, town by town and area by area, we will win the battle. I truly believe this will work.