Challenger Portals Step Up Battle To Win Over Agents...

Date Published 01 July 2013

The challenger portals are gearing up in their fight to win over estate agents.

Agents’ Mutual, Nethouseprices and Facebook’s Property Network are all staking their individual claims – while being united in their bid to topple the duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla.

Catherine Lamond, of Nethouseprices, which says it can launch an agent-owned portal this autumn, said it has now received over 1,000 expressions of interest and is continuing to add between 80 and 100 a day.

She said: `It is great confirmation of agents’ appetite for change. We will be giving presentation meetings for agents in London and throughout the country very soon to allow agents to be fully informed of the opportunity and to answer any questions they may have.`

Lamond conceded that `a lot of agents` are probably registering with both Nethouseprices and Agents’ Mutual, but she said: `We can only reiterate what we have said before: we are ready to go, our costs are much lower than Agents’ Mutual, and there is low risk due to the escrow account.`

Meanwhile, both Property Network and Agents’ Mutual were at a recent meeting of the NAEA in Surrey.

Sohail Rashid, CEO of Property Network, said that signing up was the best way for agents to tap into the social media network.

He explained that Property Network recognises key words used by Facebook users to recognise a life event which may result in a property upgrade or downgrade, such as an engagement, pregnancy or marriage. It then targets relevant questions regarding that life event to generate appraisal leads for estate agents.

James Wyatt, regional chairman of the NAEA Surrey branch, said: `Barton Wyatt were early adopters of social media and have now also joined Property Network. This means that our homes are now advertised to over 30 million Facebook users, and we don’t have to lift a finger. We are also receiving valuation leads which otherwise would have gone to our competitors.

`All estate agents need a social media marketing strategy in addition to existing advertising offerings.`

Ian Springett spoke about the Agents’ Mutual proposition. He said it is aiming to disrupt the current duopoly by enforcing a strict members’ rule stipulating they may only use one of the two main portals in addition to the Agents’ Mutual portal.

He stressed that the portal will be completely agent-owned and added: `It is a chance [for estate agents] to reclaim the value of their property data and regain control of advertising costs.`

Meanwhile, Needaproperty, which launched last year, has introduced a ‘travel time’ feature which it claims is a first. It is aimed at allowing users to hunt for property by keying in `a place of interest` such as a school or place of work and to look for properties within, for example, a 15-minute drive.