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OTM is ‘limping along’ and agents hate Rightmove, claims leading columnist

Times financial editor Patrick Hosking gives his 'no-holds barred' views on the UK property portal market.

Nigel Lewis

patrick hosking times

A leading newspaper columnist has given a withering appraisal of the UK’s property portals including OnTheMarket, describing the No.3 portal as ‘limping along’ and its share price ‘drifting lower’ since it debuted on the stockmarket.

The comments by Patrick Hosking (pictured), who is one of the most senior financial journalists working at The Times newspaper, are made within a ‘no-holds barred’ column published yesterday.

It shines a highly critical light on OnTheMarket but is no less kind to Rightmove and the soon-to-launch new kid on the block, Boomin.

As well as suggesting that OTM has failed to deliver on its early promise after being launched on the back of frustration among estate agents with Rightmove, Hosking also lays into Rightmove.

Airing industry dirty washing that many consumers are most likely unaware of he details how, despite the millions of people who search for home to buy and rent on its website every month, “its actual paying customers detest it — or at least are very frustrated with it,” he says.

“Estate agents are resentful of the sometimes thousands of pounds per month per branch they are charged for advertising homes on the site.”

“The agents, as they see it, do all the work in wooing the vendor, valuing the home, taking photos, writing up the particulars, arranging viewings and conducting negotiations.

“Rightmove offers a perfectly good service, but takes a large chunk of money for adding very little — and keeps raising its prices.”

Hosking also gives his readers a lukewarm appraisal of Boomin. As well as claiming that Michael Bruce has put £10 million of his money into the challenger portal, he says it faces a daunting task.

“Bruce is an energetic innovator and disruptor. With Purplebricks, he moved the dial for a while, but it ultimately didn’t transform the business of house-selling,” says Hosking.

“With Boomin, he will need even more luck to even discomfort, let alone dislodge, the industry elephant.”

OTM CEO Jason Tebb responds:

onthemarket“OnTheMarket isn’t ‘limping’; indeed, we had a robust and strong start to the year with more than 1.8 million leads generated in January, which is an average of 146 per advertiser.

“Visits to the site in the month were 28 million and weekly site visits exceeded 6 million every week since the start of February 2021. In addition, we have a strong balance sheet despite the headwinds of the COVID19 pandemic. These figures demonstrate that we are a portal which has been built on strong foundations.

But there is much more we can do.

“I’ll soon be unveiling our forward-looking strategy in the next few weeks and I’m really excited about sharing those details with our community of agents.  In the meantime, my personal engagement with our customers will pick up pace as I continue to listen, understand and learn about what they need and want from a portal and what they feel would add value to their businesses. Their support so far has been overwhelming.

“There’s one thing every property portal has to remember; we’re here to serve agents and safeguard their best interest and as the only portal which is majority agent-owned, we are best placed to do just that. But equally as important is providing the consumer with a reason to visit the site time and time again.

“We are already building momentum, with new agents choosing to list with OnTheMarket for the first time, as well as expanding our product and service offering to existing customers to make it easier, quicker and more cost effective for agents to sell and let their listings.”

Read the Times column in full (requires subscription).

March 3, 2021

5 comments

  1. Agents should get together in a geographical patch, ensuring they represent c70%+ of local quality stock, build a portal, launch it with the support of all their staff and with a lead agent appointed to make it happen, enlist their communities and then leave all other portals when it is the obvious best place to go. Oh.. they should call it wearethemarket.co.uk. It’s hardwork but not impossible…

  2. The habits of how consumers buy has changed, Rightmove is only a one dimensial digital billboard, it will be eclipsed by a more Amazon e-commerce type of property platform. The only question is when? The consumer arrives at Rightmove likes something then comes off the site and eals with the agent, not much UX going on there. The big winner will be the consumer arrives at the property ‘platform’ sees something of interest – stays on the platform – interacts with agent/property on the platform, spends cash or has intention to, and all of the following journey is locked inside that platform. It does not diminish the agent, it is just one community where the client customer and the agent and all other stakeholders sit – ready to do business 24/7.

  3. The irony is agents have all the power (the stock) Joe Viewer does not care who the agent is or which portal they are advertised on … they simply follow the properties … If agents stopped their feed to RM and instead promoted locally / pointed customers to an alternative site … customers would soon follow and RM would soon want to talk about fees and service.

    Someone needs to buy estate agents an orchidometer !!!

  4. This reminds me very much of the position booking.com hold in the travel and hospitality arena, though in their case it is global. The paying guest traveller has no idea what it is like to be Booking’s paying customer, their commission levels and how they control their market purely as a broker. And in all honesty, why should a guest or traveller be interested?
    If househunters default to Rightmove and Zoopla, then what is to be done?

  5. Let’s face it, as much as all agency principals dislike Rightmove for their price hiking and arrogant attitude towards their paying clients, they are clearly not going anywhere. I would love to see some proper competition …one that forces the greedy hand of Rightmove to cease snatching,as every month feels like no value for money, but the public can’t get enough it seems. They have placed themselves in the enviable position with the consumer of leading the on-line portal market and we can do zero but pay..how defeatist is that ?…I know. We all know the real truth, that it is a pompous over-priced robber with a street-fighting, take it or leave it attitude. I wish “Boomin” all the luck in the world but honestly ? why does Michael Bruce want another white elephant on his hands and what on Earth makes him think he can overturn or even challenge Rightmove ?

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