OnTheMarket.com has not ever been a truly mutual organisation, despite its claims to the contrary, a leading industry figure has claimed.
Challenger portal founder Andrew Goldthorpe (pictured) says that although OTM’s parent company was originally called Agents Mutual and that it still touts itself as ‘agent owned’, he believes the portal could never have been a true mutual due to the way it was set up.
Goldthorpe launched PropertyMutual in 2014 as a both an ethical and 100% mutual property portal but, during an interview with Chris Watkins published today, says he takes a dim view of OTM’s mutuality claims.
“I believe that mutuality is an opportunity for business to do well and to do good, but PLCs [like OTM and Rightmove] have an inherent conflict of interest that stops them working solely in the interest of their members,” says Goldthorpe.
He says PropertyMutual has a clause written into its articles of association that prevents it being launched on the stock market.
This clause says that if the mutual status of the organisation is discontinued, then all the profits and assets are returned to the members.
“Obviously OTM didn’t have this kind of clause, which enabled it to float back in 2018,” he says.
“But it was clear to many agents that it wasn’t a legitimate mutual and it’s why I went to great pains to create an exclusively mutual structure for my portal.”
During the interview, which is available exclusive to watch below, Goldthorpe says his portal charges agents £10 a month and asks that they sign up for a five-year deal.
Then, he says, if he can achieve a critical mass of 5,000 estate agents, this will give PropertyMutual enough cash to begin marketing itself to consumers.