New portal – ‘the one you didn’t see coming’ – to take properties from agents’ own sites

A new property portal which describes itself as “the one you didn’t see coming” is set to ramp up activity today, ahead of its formal launch next Monday.

Houser founder Rocky Mirza told Eye that the site will be populated at launch with an inventory of UK properties obtained by crawling agents’ own websites and other published sources which could include private listings.

Asked if agents might object, Mirza said not, because the site is free.

Houser, which is offering free listings for five years, says it “will do for real estate in UK what Google has done for search”.

It also promises: “True disruption is on its way.”

Mirza said that from today, some of the agents already on board with Houser will be able to populate the site by uploading properties and other information.

At the weekend, the website said it had 5,154 agents on board. Mirza said the number was accurate and that all the agents concerned had signed up to it.

Mirza said that every single postcode in London was covered by an agent, and that about 18% of the total number of offices signed up are in London.

The site said over the weekend that it had over 55m pages “indexed”.

One of Houser’s features will be a viewing schedule for every property listed, allowing prospective buyers to schedule in viewings of other properties that could be on with competitive agents.

If, for example, they book to see 31 Acacia Avenue on with Agent A, the system will automatically alert them to the fact that 53 Acacia Avenue is on with Agent B and number 107 on with Agent C, and allow them to schedule multiple appointments online.

Mirza said that the system is similar to that of Amazon, where the online bookseller says that if you have enjoyed one book by one author, you might enjoy similar books by other writers.

We also asked about OnTheMarket, launching on January 26.

Mirza said that between January 12 and January 26, Houser would be proving itself.

He said: “We are 100% sure that we will get into the top ten sites for traffic referrals.”

Agents would, he said, over that two-week period, be able to see the value of Houser’s free offering – although it would appear that OTM agents whose properties are on Houser could run the risk of inadvertently breaking the “only one other portal” rule.

Mirza said: “My goal is market share. We will not make any money for three years.”

He said that once agents understand what they are getting for free, they will want to know how much they might get if they are paying. He would not be drawn on paid-for products, saying only that Houser is looking at several different business models.

However, he did say that one of the reasons agents will like the site is that it will “do for sellers” what Rightmove and Zoopla do for buyers – suggesting that Houser may have found a new way of delivering vendor leads.

Mirza was also adamant that Houser will be “crawling” and not scraping, emphasising that there is a difference, and that content will not be taken from Rightmove or Zoopla.

He said one reason for this is that agents often hold back properties, and that it was better to go to the prime source to get the earliest listings – in most cases, agents’ own sites, but also “loads and loads of different sites”.

These appear to include the likes of Gumtree, which includes private listings. Mirza said that private listings could go on his site, once Houser had the URL.

He said it was a nonsense to believe that Rightmove and Zoopla did not accept private listings, saying that they did, just as long as they went through a third party agent that might be charging as little as £49.

Mirza said that Houser will have significant funds for marketing, but would not be drawn on how the consumer awareness campaign will run. He did say: “We are in a position to spend money.”

Asked why there has been no publicity or PR, Mirza said that pre-launch hype was nowhere near as effective as delivery.

He said: “80% of good marketing is product.”

Mirza, pictured, who himself is not a director of the company, is a serial entrepreneur with a number of start-ups under his belt. The director of Houser Realty, based in Poplar, east London, is Charles Berisford Andrews.

http://www.houser.co.uk/

rocky

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37 Comments

  1. surreyagent

    They might need a website…….

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  2. The Outsider

    Ooops. Looks like someone has had too much xmas brandy and posted the April Fools Day story 3 months early!

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  3. wilko

    A nice piece of pie in the sky portal nonsense to start off the new term.!

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  4. Benay

    Sorry to start the year on a negative but technically Ros started it….. but wrong wrong wrong!!!

    So this is Simon Shinerock's genius! The inability to master the attention to detail on something as simple as a shirt is a big clue where this one is headed.

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  5. Jonnie

    Well this is all very agreeable isn't it? We all get this brilliant new portal for free and dont even have to upload to it they just take listings off our own websites, full service and budget agents together, FSBO listings all for free to be getting on with, splendid, I'm sure it will be a huge success, thanks to this guy for gracing the property world with his presence, I'm sure we will all get behind it – Jonnie

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  6. CommonSense

    Interesting, Jonnie why are you so upset?

    From what I can understand from the comments, it seems some people are afraid of change or change must come with a cost.

    Whenever I hear "that's not going to change" – I get pretty convinced that whatever topic is being discussed will most certainly change…more simply, since the onset of the Internet what hasn't changed? Oh yeah, the real estate deal. 🙂

    it would be great to see how those with knowledge dissect the commotion for the industry to help collect and absorb the various perspectives that will add to the interesting conversations to follow on critical topics such as the future of real estate. I sit with anticipation for all new ventures in the industry but the true judge will be the time.

    As for Houser’s free offering, there have been others before you who tried the same. What makes you different?

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    1. smile please

      Issue is its our stock we will advertise where we want it. This chap is clever enough to know once he has grown market share he can then "Market" the website be it charging agents, taking direct listings etc.. As high street agents that offer a service not just a listing portal we do not want to encourage or endorse these website / portals

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      1. CommonSense

        Smile please; i agree with you that issue is our stock but when we provide that stock to one portal, it is no longer unique to keep it inhouse. we should put it on as many places as possible to increase reach. Currently we not only provide our stock to the big two but we pay to do so. I am personally not concerned if after 5 years they start charging, I can easily judge the kind of return provided in those years. What my main concern is, what will they do different from those who have came before them. The press articles including this are normally written to tell us something is coming. We can only determine the value of what is coming.

        technological frustration for lots of estate agents. While I'm not a "senior"Agent , I am in the "middle age " range, and even I face some tech challenges that require the skill and patience of a younger staff and Admin. Luckily, my office has both! However, I have had to get some one-on-one ,private training for some specific tasks.

        When most of us are in this range and we are pitched stories from portals all the time, it is only human to believe in someone. We all need to stay current with technology in order to speak the same language and keep pace with our younger Buyers. The millennials are a different breed of Buyers who live and relate in a very "instant" world, and expect our responsiveness to meet the same "real time "standards.

        My questions to houser are:
        What makes you different?
        What will you do to gain traffic?
        Can you get me in front of millennials in real time?

        If answers to these questions are not provided, even if you crawl my listings, I will not be joining the site.

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        1. smile please

          Problem is saying put it on as many portals as possible for maximum exposure is short sighted, yes in say the first 5 years will benefit you, but after that you are helping hang yourself. The answer to your questions to Houser are: only thing makes them different is free listing. He betting (and that's what it is a long shot) that lots of agents sign up free to his portal, he will grow market share over 5 years and hope he becomes the go to place for home movers. If this works he then has multiple income streams. It will be a loss leader for 5 years and if the formula works he then has the market at his disposal. Its a good idea in theory but I think practically he will fail. Also you may want to find out what he does with the data of properties he receives, you may find this is sold to third parties even other agents. as the age old adage goes "Nothings free"

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    2. wilko

      ." As for Houser’s free offering, there have been others before you who tried the same. What makes you different?"…….Nothing makes them different I believe……Most of us appreciate that change is inevitable, but where portals are concerned the main thing they need is massive advertising revenue……You watch, I reckon, in my view, there is a good chance that maybe this company will go cap in hand to the benevolent crowd funders to raise money for their "project"……Well thought out original idea though….nick data from other sites and put it on your own-eureka !brilliant!

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    3. Jonnie

      I'm sorry, I can't have a serious talk with anyone that calls it 'Real Estate' ive been in Estate Agency a fair while an no customer, competitor, lender, solicitor, surveyor, colleague etc has ever called it that, do you fill your car with gasoline, call your rear a ***** or walk on a side walk? – Jonnie

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      1. CommonSense

        Jonnie, touchy touchy.

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        1. Jonnie

          Okay……don't flatter your self into thinking you have any idea at all of my current mood, first you ask why im upset, then tell me im 'touchy, touchy'……………im taking the mickey out of you and the more you blither on the more you deserve it – Jonnie

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      2. smile please

        I HATE "Real Estate" but an SEO tip use it as that's what google picks up on

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        1. CommonSense

          smile please: you know more than most. 100% agree, not only for seo but depending on the time of the day per per click on google for real estate actually is valuable in cost and to attract international buyers.

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  7. Woodentop

    There have been shed loads of crawler sites on the web over the years, nearly all have failed. Actually I don't know one that has not failed. Copyright will cost dearly and as the saying goes nothing is free. Will fail.

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    1. CommonSense

      I agree with you most fail. Only one i can think of that didn't fail is nestoria.

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  8. Eric Walker

    Globrix anyone? My question to OTM is – does this breach the one other portal rule? If so, I would be miffed to get penalised through the unauthorised actions of another. How would this be policed and enforced?

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    1. Taff

      Am I missing something? Houser is nothing but a portal site, whose primary job is to advertise property and the vast vast majority of OTM agents have already signed up its "one other portal". Of course it breaches the "One other portal" rule.

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      1. Eric Walker

        In fairness, it's not as simple as it seems. If a scraper site lists every agents details, OTM can penalise them all or hold them responsible. The issue is that if OTM only enforces breaches where RM or Zoopla are involved, it may be construed as anti-competitive. Of course, this assumes Houser will take off…

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        1. RealAgent

          I actually wonder if OTM needs to keep the "one other portal" rule now. I can see why it was needed but I think that most agents that were going to sign up before launch have now signed the agreement and DD so are committed. Expenditure will dictate that few will creep back and spend the money on three similar offering portals and most of the supporters are doing it for reasons other than monetary anyway. It has the other bonus of removing the argument from the various newspapers at a stroke!

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      2. treehuggergraeme

        Official response received from OTM is as follows:

        "Your contract with Agents' Mutual does indeed mean that you may only advertise with one other property portal, which includes aggregators such as houser.

        We of course understand that these websites scrape data, often without your go-ahead and as such request that you contact them and ask them to cease scraping and to remove your listings as soon as possible, but as this is out of your direct control we will of course bear with you while you wait for Houser to action your request."

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  9. Trevor Mealham

    So another 5,154 agents that wont be in OTM due to the one portal rule. Less stock for OTM SEO

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    1. Taff

      Where have these 5,154 agents come from? Are these 5,154 agents who have made a carefully considered decision and signed a contract … or (as I suspect) Houser has just lifted details off 5,154 unsuspecting agents websites while the agents know sod all about it?

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  10. Woodentop

    Crawler sites do not breach one other portal rule as the agent has not listed. There is case law where crawler sites have breached regulations and the vendor has not been held liable as it was without their authority and beyond their control. However if they signed up, that is another matter.

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  11. Ewan Foreman

    It is quite possibly just a matter of time before a dominant free to list site becomes a future household name. I say good for them, but would also warn that current timing does not lend itself to agents adding/feeding properties and therefore the risk of poor quality and dated listing is a huge issue.

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    1. Taff

      Aren't the terms "free" and "dominant" mutually exclusive? How is any website going to be a household dominant name without charging a fee?

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  12. Eric Walker

    "…and that content will not be taken from Rightmove or Zoopla. He said one reason for this is that agents often hold back properties, and that it was better to go to the prime source to get the earliest listings"

    Has he considered there may be a reason why a property has been 'held back'. I have had situations where people haven't wanted a property on a national website and instead asked for low profile locally to test the market or to stop an estranged partner readily tracking things from afar . Just an observation.

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    1. Woodentop

      Eric I think you will find this is the answer why he will not hit RM or Z or Any other web site with the same conditions. It amazes me that many agents do not have this policy on their own web sites, to protect their business!

      "You must not use or attempt to use any automated program (including, without limitation, any spider or other web crawler) to access our system or this Site, or to search, display or obtain links to any part of this Site, other than the home page at http://www.rightmove.co.uk, unless the automated program identifies itself uniquely in the User Agent field and is fully compliant with the Robots Exclusion Protocol (a "Permitted Program"). Any such use or attempted use of an automated program (other than a Permitted Program) shall be a misuse of our system and this Site. Obtaining access to any part of our system or this Site by means of any such automated programs (other than a Permitted Program) is strictly unauthorised".

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      1. CommonSense

        Your knowledge of law speaks volume. I think another reason the big two may not be a good candidate for crawling; they don’t list our numbers and assign a unique number for every agent. If houser did that and I received a call from that number, it will simply show the call coming from Rightmove.
        I am not against Free and like I said above, once we pay to provide our inventory to one, protecting it from others doesn’t make sense. I have been tracking my incoming leads from rightmove and almost all of them are from my own listings. How come no leads come from people looking to sell their homes in my area? Because those leads actually are sent to selected few. On certain streets we have better success rate and inventory than any other estate agent but yet we get no sellers leads from those streets from rm. Even knowing all this, there is no way we would be moving our inventory from either of the big two. Any other service comes along, we will judge based on results.
        I’m hoping my main competitor signs with otm – It will be interesting to see if it gives us a unique edge when speaking with the sellers.

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        1. Woodentop

          Your comments about leads are exactly what I have been saying for years. RM actually rig the system to premier members leaving other agents out in the cold. You are basically blackmailed with fee's to not be left out. EVERYONE who are pro RM and anti OTM seem to forget that RM did not build its position from it's own doing and its media marketing is abysmal. It was the high street agents advertising and listing properties that created the animal. OTM is no different as a web platform for agents to use. There are differences, eg it will not allow non-members to advertise, just as most commerce do. What it also does is listen to its customers (members) and it prevent all the things wrong with RM from happening as recently demonstrated. All that will happen it the public will switch to OTM as the agents promote the site and drop RM and Z. Those that stay with either RM & Z in the short term I believe will eventually drop them as the need for multiple web advertising is not desirable for a business and certainly not what the public want once they have become familiar with OTM.

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          1. CommonSense

            You seem to have advance knowledge of what is happening in the industry. A person with your knowledge is saying otm will takeover as the main portal, am I missing something. Rm and z have been at each other with millions in advertising and yet both have market share. It is easier for otm to rally the professionals, get some larger agents to take part and some of the smaller ones will follow but getting consumer to switch is not going to be easy. I use yahoo email and have used it for a long time, Gmail is better yet I never made the switch. There are three search engines, google, yahoo and bing. Most people use google but there are people who never made the switch from yahoo. Otm is making waves and the big two have some thinking to do but it must have something more than just “mutual”. Something game changing on the consumer front. Would that game changer be otm, houser or easyproperty only time will tell but all these ventures are good for the industry.

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  13. Woodentop

    The point in question is who makes any web portal work? Only the business that feeds it. All to often people get wound up in all the hype about what they think their customers will react. If you are running a business you need to be in control, not dictated to by the consumer or you will be forever looking over your shoulder. Take control, adapt to corner your market is always how a successful business is run. Where RM & Z went wrong big time ..,… they took advantage and forgot the first principle of business = don't upset your customer i.e. the one that feeds you, the estate agent. If one now looks at both of these sites they are not working for the agent or vendor but geared nearly all to what they think the consumer needs and how they want to run things. Utter tosh. They have bitten that hand that feeds them, which now is going somewhere else OTM. The stock market is in panic mode, the media who have vested interests in these two portals are in panic mode, their investors are in panic mode (if not they are blind) …… wait till May when the public have been pushed away to OTM by the high street agents, leaving the corporates and web only portals out in the cold. That is the key, the more that do sign up to OTM, the faster things will happen, sitting on your backsides waiting for the inevitable demise of RM as agents pull the plug, leaving them with nothing to offer the public … not rocket science to see the public will switch allegiance to OTM. Everyone in my area has signed up now, have you? You have nothing to loose!

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    1. CommonSense

      What area are you in?

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  14. PortalPerson

    They'll also need a website that loads in less than about 10 seconds!

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  15. agentx

    Housa who? Never heard of it, so why would I go looking for it? And I work in the industry! aouse. bousa, fousa, housa,, mousa, tousa, wousa??

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  16. Paul K

    Here's the thing – I have done a quick calculation and I will save £75,000 over the 5 years by changing from Rightmove to On The Market – and if it pans out as expected will achieve the same results. why would I consider a scraper site ?

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