Could the property portals go the same way that local newspapers have done?

Could the property portals go the same way as local newspapers?

Given that it was the portals that trumped the papers, it is an ironical thought – and one that is put very ably by Troy Stanley of Resource Techniques.

He argues that new ways of search, including voice search (are you listening, Alexa?), could mean that Rightmove is no longer an unstoppable force.

Coincidentally, EYE ran a piece only this week about voice search. Paul James suggested that if voice search (“Show me three bedroom homes in central Manchester priced below £285k”) takes off, agents should ensure their properties can be found with the most popular commands.

Troy Stanley has taken the argument further.

“Most experts agree that voice search is becoming increasingly popular with the enhancements of wearable technology, virtual assistants and smart home technology such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

“These devices will likely be in everyone’s homes and on everyone’s wrist within the next few years, just like smartphones are in everyone’s pockets right now.

“Devices like the Apple Watch, Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo and Google Home, all function around personal virtual assistances like Siri, Alexa and Cortana.

“These devices use Google and other search engines to deliver the results for the questions that the user has asked.

“For example, you could be sat on the sofa with your Google Home device on the shelf, wondering if there are any new properties on the market and simply say ‘Hey Google, what new properties are on the market that I might like?’

“Google would instantly search the web and display the properties via the device of your choice (Smartwatch, Smartphone, TV, tablet or PC) within seconds.

“These types of personal virtual assistants are continually enhancing, and as they are paired to your other accounts such as Google, they know a lot about you.

“For example, your personal virtual assistant will know where you live from where your devices are connected, where you work by tracking your travel via Google Maps every day, and what your purchasing characteristics and styles are from what you buy online.

“The list of information tech companies know about you is significant and ongoing, making their knowledge and understanding of your habits, likes and dislikes practically limitless.

“With this knowledge, when you ask Google to show you what properties you might be interested in, they would be able to bypass the property portals and get the information directly from the estate agent.”

The full piece, which also gives advice to agents how to optimise their websites for conversational keywords, is a fascinating glimpse into a possible future where the likes of Google could make portals obsolete.


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  1. Property Poke In The Eye

    Rightmove days are numbered anyway.  They know it. Agents know it.

    Charging more in subscription than office rent.   No more bullying tactics.  Agents are fighting back.

    OTM is bringing in the checks and balances for these portals.

    I agree with this article.  Virtual Voice search will be the future within a few years.   70% of the time I search is by voice.

    Agents should always spend more time updating their own website with good content.

    Then again, could a good old fashion board be the answer with that bar code thing?

    Google is the one to look out for.


    Me: Google, why did rightmove close down?

    Google: Because agents fought back and went to OTM  🙂


    Happy Friday people!!!



  2. Robert May

    Asking for a friend….What would happen if all of that (and a bit more besides) already exists and agents  were able to buy an equitable, proportional, stake in the system so this time it’s protected for their benefit?

  3. Pollard36

    I do think portals will go eventually, it’s the cyclical nature of business.

    I think they will hang around for longer though and the smart portals will start to evolve, become more intelligent and perhaps look at tools such as voice search, greater personalisation and better ways at intergrating with local communities and agents.

    I don’t think it’ll be purely voice search that kills the portals though – I’m sure one of RM or Z could try that tomorrow.

    For a long time I thought OTM would kill off the two larger portals but I feel their chance has gone now as well – though I am aware of other figures in the industry putting together similar technology such as Mr May and AgentV – perhaps this will be the next wave?



    1. AgentV

      I do hope so Pollard36, I do hope so!

    2. Robert May

      I’ve built a system to compliment OTM, I want to work with them and their agents and through relationships we have already built we have test data from AM agents (quite a lot of them). The next generation of tech for agents is about 7 years behind where it should be but by Christmas I think we will all be caught up and the landscape will look very different than it does today.
      We are going into meetings right now with people genuinely not believing what we think is possible can be done.  We are coming out of those meetings with our sceptics as enthusiastic advocates, convinced change is possible and eager to help!

      1. Steve_Smithson

        How do we find out more?

        1. Robert May

          For the time being DM @rummage4_sales on twitter. We’ve built the products and are stress testing them and the servers right now. We are just starting to build the supporting company and the customer base.
          None of the trade press have seen the system yet as we’re waiting on the final IOS version to go through the vetting process.

  4. Property Pundit

    I’m amazed they have lasted this long. They are ONLY websites. I am confident the next generation property search methodology will be with us shortly and it will be absolutely nothing to do with google (or facebook or any other tech giant). Estate agents would be incredibly foolish to share their data with these behemoths (any more than they already are, whether they know it or not).

  5. hodge

    Rightmove have been ripping agents off for years and yet everyone worried about Purple bricks.   However I recall back in the early 90s when i set up a property paper to compete with Johnson press.  Even though we offered a third of the price, johnson went back to those on the fence and offered similar rates to us.   That is exactly what will happen here as the large companies will be swayed by opening offers to retain them with a tie in.


    As for the future and voice activated drivel…if there is one thing that drives people nuts its automation 1 for your money 2 for invoices 3 for complaints.  The very thought of a computer trying to pick out properties for me based on criteria that the punter cannot articulate will mean they will avoid it.   In the meantime more properties will come to market with more time on the market and prices dropping, rates will rise and BTls will fall in number as rents are overtaken by mortgage costs.  negative equity will stop BTL remortgages.  Its a cyclical thing and we are near the top of the cycle.

  6. Russell Williams

    Yes, speaking to our devices will become more the norm.  Yes, those devices will be able to find information and display it where we want.

    But, when you ask your device to find you something, it’s still got to use the internet to find what you’re after.  And it will use a search engine to do so.  As with all technology, the ability of these search engines will constantly improve, but they will still largely work the way search engines do now when you’re looking at them on your computer screen – i.e. paid for results will come first, the best ‘organic results’ will come next and so on.

    By and large, most agent’s own websites are drivel.  People who are regularly on this forum and thus can be said to care about the business, are probably the exception (I would hope).  Thus, I would imagine that most agent websites would not feature so highly in the results that your virtual assistant would find.  Your virtual assistant, after searching with Google etc, would still find the results from Rightmove, Zoopla and OTM, etc, or maybe one of the lesser known sites like Nestoria.

    And I’d prefer it if it does carry on to work this way, as I don’t want to be looking at properties across umpteen differently designed and laid out, often uslesss and slow agent websites, where half the time it’s as if you’re in a puzzle and have to work out where the hell they have hidden a bit of important information.

    Also, don’t forget that a few years ago Google themselves tried to enter the property portal market (aided by Zoopla).  But once they realised the above, i.e. agents’ own websites are by and large awful and thus it was so difficult to obtain the information they needed, they simply gave up!

    So yes, virtual assistants will be used more and more, but they will still need to use search engines to find what you’re after.  They’ll best do this by looking for data on portals, where each property is uniformly presented and thus easier for the search engine to collate.  And from a user point of view, I’m sure many people will think as I do – if you’re looking at a lot of properties (and yes, once your assistant finds them, I think you’ll want to see some photos at least), it’s good to see them all on one familiar website, as opposed to umpteen awfully designed, slow to load, agent websites.

  7. Woodentop

    Is the tech not already here? Just needs the logistics and infrastructure setting up and we are off. Everything is moving so fast, the desktop replaced by the lap top, replaced by the tablet, replaced by the smartphone … the smart watch. Home TVs have all the same access. I would be buying shares in Google … its coming, the end of portals which is nothing more than an old fashioned data base and the young tech minded generation are already making big waves providing and wanting.

  8. Property Poke In The Eye

    Rightmove have been ripping agents off for years and yet everyone worried about Purple bricks.   However I recall back in the early 90s when i set up a property paper to compete with Johnson press.  Even though we offered a third of the price, johnson went back to those on the fence and offered similar rates to us.   That is exactly what will happen here as the large companies will be swayed by opening offers to retain them with a tie in.

    Rightmove have started doing this already.  They are offering agents £525 pcm to stay with them.

    I also heard £250, but I have not seen the evidence to prove this.

    Can business owners/people in charge of accounts please keep on posting what they are paying on these forums, when a portal article comes up.  Trying to gather as much information so we can all get the best deal.

    The game is changing with open forums like this.  We all need to communicate to get our customers and ourselves the best deal.


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