Rightmove and Zoopla are set to face new competition from today as new property listings site onthemarket.com launches.
A consortium of big names has backed the new venture in an attempt to break the “duopoly” of the two big property portals.
Agents’ Mutual, the group behind the site, is backed by Chestertons, Knight Frank, Savills, and Strutt & Parker, as well as London firms Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates. The group has signed up more than 4,600, or one in four estate agents, with more set to be recruited in the coming weeks.
The website offers members the option to fix the monthly fee for listing properties for five years, in what it describes as a chance for agents to control costs in the face of escalating Rightmove and Zoopla fees.
Onthemarket.com is trying to garner a competitive edge by encouraging agents to put their properties on its portal 48 hours before listing with rivals. It is not known how many agents have decided to do this.
Ian Springett, chief executive of onthemarket.com, said: “We will showcase hundreds of thousands of UK properties for sale and to let and will immediately become a ‘must-view’ portal because the vast majority of these properties will have been removed from Rightmove or Zoopla/Primelocation so OnTheMarket.com will have a unique inventory of properties.
“Success in selling is not just about listing on as many property websites as possible, it is also attributable to an agent’s expertise, contacts and overall marketing mix.”
Lawrence Hall of Zoopla said he expected the newcomer to have a “short-term impact” on his website, and described onthemarket.com as “regressive”.
He claimed the new site “creates the biggest conflict of interest ever to exist between estate agents and their clients, who now have to think very carefully about which agents are looking after the homeowner, versus which are looking after their own interests.”
Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone, has also criticised the new online home seller, claiming it is “doomed from the start”.
Dunstone has invested £5m in HouseSimple, another online estate agency aiming to shake up the high street. HouseSimple is one of a number of online players challenging high street estate agents by offering sellers a way of listing their property on a portal without paying high agency fees.
Dunstone said the site’s “motivation is entirely wrong” as it attempted to prevent competition, rather than focusing on the needs of consumers.
“It is trying to be a Rightmove and a Zoopla that tries to stop online estate agents. As soon as people get together to do something in which they’re attempting to stop competition, it’s doomed to fail,” he told The Times. “When you do those sort of things, you highlight how scared you are. It’s a King Canute moment.”