Estate agents have long been criticised for charging excessive fees.

But, in an ironic turn of events, they have now decided to fight back against Zoopla and Rightmove – because the online platforms’ fees are too high.

Agent’s Mutual, an organisation formed wholly by estate agents, hopes to be able to undercut the two tech giants by running a new portal that will be used by estate agents all over the country.

The new company was founded last year by six estate agents including Savills and Knight Frank, and has already signed up around 2,900 branches.

While the organisation itself will be not-for-profit, it will undoubtedly benefit all the estate agents involved.

A twist in the tale

Zoopla and Rightmove were both created to help people find properties to rent or purchase by bypassing estate agents websites.

Branches tend to now advertise their properties on both websites but are now trying to take control again.

The battle between ‘the establishment’ and the tech elite is hardly a new narrative. Recently, Addison Lee pondered selling the company as pressure from the likes of Uber and Hailo started ramping up.

Delving into technology

Agents’ Mutual has announced that its consumer-facing website will be called OnTheMarket and will be launched in early 2015.

Their website explains that a 2015 launch gives estate agents ample time to prepare for the move.

While their current website is basic (and has a number of menu buttons that do nothing), their careers page is currently advertising for a new developer.

Not-for-profit

OnTheMarket will be not-for-profit and will provide an online listing service for members at cost.

The cost of listing will presumably be less than the £300 a month Zoopla charges branches to list properties. Rightmove generally charges more.

In return for listing on the new platform, members will have to agree to advertise on only one other online portal, effectively forcing them to leave either Rightmove or Zoopla.

Already growing

Ian Springett, chief executive of Agent’s Mutual, says it is currently attracting new agents at a rate of over 100 per month.

They have also recently hired 18 regional marketing staff, most of whom Springett says have come from Rightmove and Zoopla.

It is a big market that Agent’s Mutual hopes to crack. Rightmove has a market capitalisation of £2.1bn and Zoopla floated last month valued at £919m.

 

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