Is OnTheMarket set to become the number one portal choice for independent agents?

Can OnTheMarket emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic as the number one portal choice for independent agents?

It is now nearly seven months since our country entered into a full lockdown. In that time our industry has been shut down, reopened – albeit with restrictions – and is now riding high on a bounce-back which has uncertain longevity without continued government support and stimulation.

During this time, we have seen the portal war continue to rage; only intensified by some new entrants, which is a good thing if it makes the market more competitive. It is, however, important to take stock, consider our options and harness our industry firepower around choices which could shape estate agency for years to come. We have learnt a lot as a result of our Say No To Rightmove campaign and continue to build on our strategy to deliver fairer pricing in the portal sector.

It has become very apparent that challengers in this sector need a lot more than just innovative technology to create any sustainable disruption.

The publication of their latest business results serve as a salient reminder that OnTheMarket (OTM) is still the UK’s only majority agent-owned portal. Around 65% of the business is owned by agents which puts control into our hands.

OTM currently has 72 million shares in issue and is valued at £65m, which means agents have approximately £42m tied up in the business. It would therefore be very simple to make that value grow by increasing our support.

As each of us adjust and negotiate our marketing spend, we ALL have capacity to back the portal where all our interests are aligned. We could use our shareholding to ensure OTM continues to evolve with the agents that support them at the core of their business plan.

Never has there been a portal which has been owned in such proportions by the small and medium sized firms – that is a privilege that has been previously reserved for the country’s largest agents.

The last few months have shown us that thousands of agents want to leave Rightmove whilst they continue to charge excessive monthly fees, but many are fearful of making that decision now.

So how does backing the agent-owned OTM help us to bring about an end to spiralling portal costs? Here are three simple steps that we all could take (if not already) and an explanation of how they will help us reach our end goal.

  1. Join OnTheMarket on a shareholder contract: Over 40% of all independent agents are shareholders in OnTheMarket and between them own about 65% of the portal which amounts to 6,000+ offices up and down the country. If another 2,000+ agents signed a shareholder contract with OnTheMarket, that would significantly increase marketing budgets and help the portal build increased awareness at a regional and national level, while providing excellent value leads and service to agents.
  2. Support their new and exclusive proposition: If ALL shareholder agents supported the portal by listing their properties at OnTheMarket 24 hours or more ahead of other portals, serious home-movers would soon realise OnTheMarket is the portal they should visit FIRST. This is the most sensible way of encouraging home-movers to OnTheMarket and gives the vendors and landlords an enhanced advert at no additional cost. This is a cost-free way for agents who remain reluctant to leave Rightmove at this time to shift consumer eyeballs and to enhance competition in the portals market.
  3. Increase the period of new and exclusive: Where we can, we should increase our support by extending the period we list exclusively at OnTheMarket. We should increase it to 48 hours and then 72 hours or more. Every step we take will reduce our reliance on other portals who treat us unfairly. Many agents are already building inverse marketing solutions prioritising their own websites, using AI/social media and then, as a third stage, dropping their listings onto traditional portals.

These steps are not the quick overnight switch of properties away from Rightmove that many agents would like to see, particularly while its prices are too high. Instead, it is a gradual move of our property stock away from Rightmove without any inherent risk to our businesses. This step will also shift consumer eyeballs away from Rightmove and clearly indicate that the power is ultimately in our hands.

Rightmove should now be coming to the table and deliver the changes to the contractual terms that we have been pursuing. Instead it appears they are preparing to impose further tariff increases upon the agents that can least afford them and have been their loyalist supporters. A fact that sees a steady stream of agents continuing to join Say No To Rightmove as we all search for a solution to UK estate agency’s inequitable relationship with its biggest portal.

Many agents can join OTM on a shareholder contract for a whole year for the equivalent of a couple of months of their Rightmove listing fees. The commercial risk therefore is low in pursuit of a long term resolution. I would encourage you all to commit to just one year’s listing with OnTheMarket and to support the new and exclusive proposition. Those who join as shareholders will receive £1,000 of welcome shares, as well as 20%-plus of the listing fees paid back in shares.

We are further aware OTM has innovative plans in place to improve its data analytics, its use of social media and to reward agents supportive of the new and exclusive scheme with a local Facebook advertising campaign.

For years, agents have wanted their own portal to enable them to control their costs and to reduce reliance on other portals. OTM is already enjoying significant consumer awareness and in August it reported delivering an average of 148 leads per office per month to agents.

It will potentially take years for any new challengers to reach this level of performance. So, now more than ever, I believe that it is in the interests of all UK agents to add the backing of OTM to their portal strategy. This will ensure the cost to our industry that Rightmove have enjoyed starts to be rebalanced.

It’s now more important than ever that UK independent agents galvanise their efforts to take back control of the portal sector –


Long-standing OTM advocate Rob Sargent is the CEO of Acorn Group, which has 35 offices across south-east London and Kent.


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  1. smile please

    Basically they are skint. Cant afford tv advertising so going to be boosting posts on Facebook .

    Can OTM become anymore pathetic and laughable.

    Needs putting down like a lame horse.

    1. devonlondoner59

      Agreed, especially following the new CEO appt of Tebb whose ability I question. But we shall see

    2. debbiedoesalot

      Well if more agents stopped whinging on about their perceived lack of success (which is actually quite inaccurate – they gave us more leads than Rightmove when we were still with them) and joined, they would have plenty of cash. I really don’t understand your reluctance – OTM is the best chance we have.

      1. mmmm

        i use rightmove (paid), Z (paid) and OTM (free) and certainly won’t be paying for OTM when they come knocking I’m afraid. Decent volume on lettings but quality is dreadful which wastes a lot of our time. Sales I get the odd buyer from them but vast majority of deals come from rightmove or Z.

        If Boomin have got the corporates on board (will probably give them shares and free listings etc like RM and ZPG did) then OTM is already dead, it just doesn’t know it yet.

        Sell your shares now before Boomin show them how to do it (and they will…)


        1. smile please

          Likewise MMMMMMM

          On the same, pay next to nothing for OTM will not be paying them when they come knocking for more.

          The only agents that see ‘value’ in it are letting only offices in either a very high turnover area or are with next to no competition. Its a plug and play option for agents happy to have a wage rather than a business.


    Best move we’ve made for years. OTM undoubtedly gives us far more leads. Left RM 18 months ago – profit has increased. Simples.

  3. JonnyBanana43

    Why would anyone “dislike” this comment. Factual and interesting insight from an agent.

    We too find the same – great leads from OTM. Particularly at the upper end of the market.

    What are you scared of haters?

    1. debbiedoesalot

      Spot on Jonny!!

  4. mmmm

    If Sargent is as keen as he appears to be on supporting OTM, he shouldn’t do so much to promote their immediate competition…

    wasn’t it only a week or two ago that he was publicly gushing over joining Zoopla?

    And only a couple of weeks before that he was banging on about Boomin?

    Rob, in case you hadn’t noticed, Boomin will have to come through OTM, and Zoopla will do anything to prevent OTM and Boomin catching them…

    Meanwhile, when are you leaving rightmove?

    I’m afraid it looks as though you’re using whatever small platform you’ve got to try to drive the best deal for your business with all portals, but are using the hopes and fears of others to do it.

    that makes you somewhat disingenuous, and your followers somewhat dumb.

    it feels to to me as though the only place Acorn are going to end up is on all 4 portals!

    Maybe that’s your game? Increase costs for your competitors so they can’t afford to compete with you?

  5. James White


  6. Taliesin84

    Your position Mr Sargent is now becoming quite confusing. I agree with your campaign against RM fees and with your comments in this latest article but find your recent promotion of Zoopla and Boomin baffling. So what is your strategy? When are you going to cancel your contract with RM and increase your exclusive use of OTM to 72 hours then? Time to get off the fence me thinks.

  7. Hillofwad71

    The Man for All Seasons

    1. biffabear

      The man for all Portals.
      Mr. Portal.

  8. MarkJ

    Portals need the public and they need agents stock to succeed. i.e. get agents to pay their fees.   One without the other is no good if you want to be no. 1   Unfortunately RM has both….OTM and Zoopla are partial on both counts.

    RM are dominant….and dont they just know it.

    For OTM to succeed they would need to get all the agents listed …corporates included… the public had an alternative place with all the stock  AND  introduce things like Exclusivity  as well.

    New useful features for the public would also help.



    1/ If agents own 65% of the shares wouldnt it be a good idea to actually wrench control back and put it on a path that we actually want ?

    2/ In the other piece about OTM it says Connells paid OTM £1m to settle the Gascoigne Halman legal challenge to OTM One other portal rule.  Someone told me recently that Connells doesnt own any shares in RM any more.  So why would Connells launch a legal challenge against OTM that benefitted RM but ultimately cost Connells £m’s ……whats the connection apart from Connells were founder members?





  9. WiltsAgent

    Having left Rightmove several years ago I also terminated my contract with Zoopla in March when lockdown kicked in. I have carried on solely with OTM based on cost. While they continue to be cost effective I’ll stay with them. If they try to push up their prices I’ll go back to Zoopla. Like most agents sales have been great since 1st June I just hope some of the pipeline will exchange before Xmas. Lettings continues to grow annually at 15%. All without Rightmove to whom I will never return.

    1. James White

      No need to have Rightmove for lettings – we let all of our properties using our Facebook contacts – all of them………..

  10. GPL

    Rob is apparently in the running for the New “Daz” Commercial …..”a dazzling whiter than white wash!” …trouble is how will he balance that with his rumoured New “Persil” Commercial ……then there’s “Walkers” “more pickly than pickled onion” and the “best, most Golden ever” Golden Wonder Crisps …..then he’s doing “Countdown”, “The 6 o’clock News”, “X-Factor” …….”Strictly” of course ……then “Ken & Barbie” is being rebranded “Rob & Barbie” ……


    ……You get the idea. Rob sitting alone at night wondering what he can promote next week.

    Here’s a Free one Rob ……”Santa” to be replaced by a “Ho Ho Hooooooing Rob” coming down everyone’s chimney at Christmas!


    FFS Rob ……if you had just focused on your “Say No…” …….but the problem was you couldn’t help “Saying Yes..” to endorsing anything that drifted past you.

    On a different note… “OTM promised so much” and all we have is another portal to pay for.



    1. James White

      Don’t pay for anything that you don’t believe in or that doesnt benefit your business in a tangible way……….it’s you choice GPL

      1. GPL

        That’s why I was one of the very 1st Gold Members to flee OTM James. Worst move joining – best move leaving.


  11. Paul

    The SNTRM campaign has always been about achieving better value from the whole sector, in particular RM who hold the industry to ransom by playing agents off against each other.  

    The industry has already saved millions with the pressure brought to bear on RM and this has also been the catalyst for other suppliers to realise agents should not be taken for granted.  

    The portal landscape is evolving; the days of BBC and ITV being our main channels is over, and the incumbents are sitting on the beach while it all goes on around them. 

    You can be a Starmer and comment from the side lines, where it’s easy to pick holes, or you can try and do something about it… 



  12. Seller0169

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I was told recently that Rob has signed a new contract with Rightmove??? Pot, kettle…

  13. biffabear

    I get more leads from OTM than any other portal.

    Surprisingly I have started to get decent quantities of leads from portals I don’t even remember signing up to and do not pay.


    Personally we spend more money pushing our own brand out on social media and it is working.

  14. Homestead38

    ‘new and exclusive’ is a scam and directly against the best interests of the client. It involves colluding with OTM to deliberately withhold the property from the 2 main portals. The Ombudsman should have taken action on this years ago, and here we have Sargent agitating for it to be even more extreme!

    1. biffabear

      Its a scam if you love RM.
      If you support independant agents, then its a great idea.

  15. HIT MAN

    The doubters obviously have their own views with OTM, being stuck in a rut is not for me. I’ve been with them from the start and promote with every enquiry I receive, Left Rightmove now for over 18 months, DON’T NEED THEM I get most my leads/enquiries through OTM, FB and a few from Zoopla, If your stuck in the old ways you will continue to use Rightmove and not progress, role reversal Rightmove have a unofficial Share in your company with no commitment… where you could have a share in a much better prospect if you want to grow up and take charge of your own business.

    1. biffabear



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