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In his own words: why James Pendleton boss is happy to be kicked off OnTheMarket

Lee Pendleton provides the fascinating backdrop to his run-in with the portal and why he'd be happy to pay for its service if the figures added up.

Lee Pendleton

onthemarket

In the last two weeks much has been written about our split with OnTheMarket. I told the world in this very publication how I didn’t rate the platform enough to pay for it and how we’d been getting it for free.

On The Market didn’t thank us for that. Soon afterwards we received an email telling us that we had been given a month’s notice. Our access is soon to end and buyers will no longer see James Pendleton properties on the portal. No loss to the company or our clients.

But what I haven’t done until now is reveal exactly why I don’t think OnTheMarket is worth paying for.

In the early days, what put us off was its One Other Portal rule. We would never have joined the platform while that was in place.

But that’s not relevant now. All that matters is toe-to-toe performance and the basic numbers tell me all I need to know — OnTheMarket just doesn’t generate enough leads for us compared to the site’s two key rivals, Zoopla and Rightmove and our own established website Jamespendleton.co.uk

Considerable margin

The fact is, Zoopla and Rightmove are better revenue generators for us by a considerable margin.

Zoopla generates the greatest number of valuations for us and it is these valuations — new stock we can sell — that are worth much more to our business than sales leads.

OnTheMarket hasn’t generated any valuations for us so let’s compare for a moment the number of sales leads from the portals that result in completed purchases.

So far this year, Zoopla has generated 12% of our sales vs 20.2% for Rightmove. The share of sales we can attribute to OnTheMarket in the past year has been 0% — ZERO.

Lettings performance

It’s a similar story with lettings. OTM produced six unique customers who eventually rented through us in the space of 12 months — less than 0.5% of our lettings business.

For all this, OTM wanted to charge us £459 per branch. That represents poor value for us.

OTM was launched as a principled bid to break up a duopoly but Rightmove and Zoopla came to dominate by giving people what they wanted.

They invested considerable sums to get into that position and they are now able to set the pace for what is an acceptable return on investment.

300% return

The result is that, for us, a portal is only worth paying for if there is at least a 300% return on our subscription. The UK’s two main property portals achieve that comfortably through a mixture of valuation leads, viewings and offers fuelling more sales and higher revenue.

Unfortunately, OTM never got close and I can only speculate as to why.

I don’t think the site had the war chest it needed in the beginning to really embark on the land grab that could have secured a bigger following.

I was in the room with other agents before the portal launched when we were told about the controversial and now largely defunct One Other Portal (OOP) rule and questions were raised about how much was to be spent on marketing.

It was under £10 million a year when, at the time, other portals were said to be spending many times that.

I would never rule out a return to OTM but it will depend on whether the portal invests more to secure themselves a seat at a top table that is still only set for two.

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