An Agents’ Mutual gold investor says that confidence in the venture is building and he sees no reason why OnTheMarket should not become quickly dominant.
On Saturday morning, Agents’ Mutual announced that it has reached the 4,000 recruitment milestone – see our full story below.
Rob Sargent, group chief executive of London and Kent agents Acorn which has 21 offices and 300 staff, said: “It will be important for agents to remain united and to move as one.”
The agent’s magazine is showing the current main portals’ logos plus OnTheMarket’s. From January, at least one of those logos will disappear.
But Sargent says he has genuinely made no decision as to whether he will pull from Zoopla or Rightmove – or both.
He said: “The jury is genuinely still out. Like many agents, we are going to play this right up to the wire.
“But I am not convinced that a property needs to be exposed over and over again on different portals – and our own research among customers tells us that they are not nearly as attuned to the portals as is often thought.
“It is nowhere near as important to them as getting a good, proactive agent who will look after their interests in the first place.”
Sargent said that any clients contracted before January and who are still with Acorn after the launch of OnTheMarket would be able to quit their agreements immediately and without penalty if they object to their property coming off either Rightmove or Zoopla.
He said: “That is the fair thing to do, and we will be straightforward with our clients.”
His view is that OnTheMarket is only launching because the whole Rightmove/Zoopla situation has “got out of hand”.
He said: “We, the agents, populate the portals with their content, and then effectively they come back to hit us with our own stock.”
On top of that, year on year, he said, the two major portals put up their prices, but he queried whether either need to make the profit margins they do.
He said: “Acorn is a business with a lot of suppliers, and our relationship with them is excellent. You could not say that of the relationship Rightmove and Zoopla have with their suppliers – the agents.”
Sargent added he was concerned by evidence that Rightmove and Zoopla are approaching agents’ customers directly.
He said this is something “we are already looking at in data protection terms”.
He had heard of one property – not with his own agency – said to have come off Zoopla but still showing on Rightmove. He said Zoopla was rumoured to have approached the vendor directly.
He added that he was not altogether surprised, saying that historically both portals have gone over the heads of agents to deal with developers directly.
Sargent said that as a known Gold backer of Agents Mutual, he is taking calls on an almost daily basis from smaller independents asking about it, and demonstrating interest.
He added: “What I particularly like about Agents’ Mutual is its inclusivity. It is not about being upmarket and London-centric, as I felt the original Primelocation was.
“It is for every type of agent, of every size, operating in every market and in every location.”