Perhaps you’ve seen our advert in the Pembrokeshire Homes supplement, or you’ve searched for agents on Rightmove in Pembrokeshire. You’re no doubt somewhat confused about what is happening or understand why this new portal ‘onthemarket.com’ is suddenly going to be displaying your property instead of Rightmove and without your choice or consent. Well at R K Lucas & Son it isn’t and we have no plans to abandon the number one property portal any time soon!
Portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla charge us as Agents considerable sums in order to allow us to upload our portfolio of clients properties to their respective websites. We do this because they have spent vast sums themselves on advertising their services nationwide and as such attract millions of homemovers every month searching for properties to buy, and they work!
We do think the basic idea of a third portal taking on the mighty duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla is great. Of course we do, the idea of taking control and using a site that benefits our business model and our clients at a lower cost would be ideal. But we just don’t think that is what’s being offered.
A lot of the local agents joined together to decide as one as to which portal is to be dropped and it was agreed that Rightmove was the site to be discarded. Rightmove does cost a lot more than Zoopla to upload to. Unfortunately, whilst that is the decision of some agents in this area, in other areas they may decide to drop Zoopla and keep Rightmove. We faced considerable pressure from some of the other Agents to join, their concern it would seem is that they wished to avoid a “competitive edge” gained by any Agent wishing to continue to use both major portals. This set off two different alarm bells with us:
First, some of the Agents involved in this ‘persuasion’, trying to convince us to work with them on a trust basis were the very same agents that had already mailshot our customers in an attempt to poach them and switch Agencies and had also privately contacted a member of our staff to go and work for them (fortunately our staff enjoy working for us and honestly, it’s a compliment that our staff are often sought by other agencies). Hardly a recipe for trust.
Secondly, if our remaining with Rightmove is considered a competitive edge, then they cannot believe their own hype that this new portal is the next big thing in online property marketing, if it were then surely by not joining we would be at a competitive disadvantage.
Nevertheless, only a fool would not carefully consider the move when so many are abandoning a tried and tested platform so we did some research.
Apparently the start-up budget for this new portal is just £7 million. That may seem a lot but when compared to Rightmove’s £15 million budget just for advertising in 2015 alone it starts to look significantly underfunded. And that’s not the least of it.
If you sign up to this new portal you can only be with one other as already mentioned, Zoopla, but you cannot advertise that – you have to remove Zoopla branding from all marketing material, you cannot advertise that you are on with anyone else. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket, and that basket is starting to look very fragile!
Further there is encouragement that the new portal is given a head-start e.g. The property is asked to be uploaded to the new portal 48 hours before any other portal. A request to deliberately limit the advertising for the benefit of the new portal.
The tie-in is horrendous, there were talks of three months and even up to twelve months notice periods to switch to the other portal, so if your clients needs are not being served or you are not getting the advertising that you had hoped would be delivered there is little you can do to rectify the situation for several months or even up to a year!
There was huge fanfare when Agents Mutual decided that it had made itself a serious contender in the market place by reaching the 4,000 members ‘milestone’. Except that those 4,000 members hadn’t committed to anything, just signed a letter of intent and even if they all should sign-up that’s just 4,000 members out of 19,000 Agents or just 21%. So not even a quarter of the country’s agencies are agreeing to this, and out of that tiny percentage they will be choosing either Rightmove or Zoopla to drop, but not both, fragmenting the effect even further. How, in any way, is that going to change the face of the market place? How is it sustainable? But far more importantly, how can anyone gamble with their clients interests with such risky numbers!?
It’s numbers that count, how many are going to visit? if we are going to suddenly drop an already performing platform then it has to be replaced with something that performs immediately. There is only one way to get such numbers, advertise! But we have seen nothing…
Where are the TV adverts?
Where are the big pages in the newspapers?
Where is the advertising on property related websites?
Simply relying on the agents who have committed themselves to place some adverts themselves in the local paper is not sufficient to drum up the amount of web traffic required for such a system to perform to the satisfaction of the people who are suppose to benefit; not the Agents, YOU, the client, the person who has placed their property with an agent expecting that agent to do everything they can to get that property seen by people who may actually consider buying your home.
We are Chartered Surveyors, we aspire to be the gold standard of property professionals, in fact it’s in our terms of membership that we must adhere to strict guidelines and rules of conduct and must act with due diligence, with a duty of care to our clients. But that is not an onerous duty, it’s not something we reluctantly agree to, it’s in our blood, we embrace the ethos of client comes first because that is what is dutiful and should be expected from anybody who engages our services.
Would it then be dutiful to abandon a service that provides results for the benefits of our clients in order to save some money each month?
Would it be dutiful to exclude our clients from such considerations and not even find out what their thoughts are about us removing a tried and tested service and replacing it with a gamble?
Is it dutiful to put ourselves first?
We’re staying with Rightmove, we’re staying with Zoopla, we will freely advertise such with no restrictions like what is required from the start-up and we will continue to put our clients first!