The planned flotation of OnTheMarket is to be welcomed and will give the portal a much-needed boost in investment to strengthen its position against the other main portals.
Subject to member agencies voting in favour of the flotation, OnTheMarket will be able to use this cash injection to boost its brand presence, providing a strong alternative to its rivals.
More importantly, it will allow us estate agents to take back control of our marketing spend and avoid being crippled by rising costs.
If you want to be on the two main portals, you’ll need to shell out an estimated £30k-£40k a year per branch in the future according to their City briefings on their income growth – more than the rent of most offices. If there’s a guaranteed way to kill off the high street and force agents solely online, this is it. What’s that going to do for customer service?
It’s all very well pointing to viewing figures and leads, and suggesting we leave the main portals at our own peril. But if they keep squeezing us, there won’t be any estate agents left – we’ll all be extinct!
Until now, everyone has been afraid to jump ship – even though OnTheMarket is a much better value option. Yet if everyone was prepared to take the plunge, the dominant portals would no longer have any stranglehold over us.
Perhaps that’s their ultimate aim? Keep raising the fees – after all, they only keep going one way and that’s upwards. Or is their intention to take what they can from estate agents, then switch to listing properties from the public instead or as well? As one well known portal in the USA already has. Funnily enough that begins with a ‘Z’ too.
Many have referred to the portals as parasites, living off our properties to generate incredible profits for their investors. Now that OnTheMarket has emerged victorious from its competition row, isn’t it time to switch allegiance and make this portal more dominant instead?
Where’s all the talent?
There’s a noticeable dearth of well-trained valuers/listers who have become like gold dust, making them a highly expensive commodity. I used to be one! In many cases, they can now earn more than their own branch managers!
The question is, where have they all gone? Surely not to the internet hybrid agents. In many cases, internet agents are no more than ‘fake agents’, with no local knowledge whatsoever of the areas where they operate.
If the internet agents are able to pay silly money to their staff, I can’t fathom out how they will ever become profitable? Surely this business model is unsustainable and we’ll see their fees starting to rise as their models fail?
I’m convinced the public will start to wise up to the fact that internet agents don’t lift a finger to get a deal through because they are paid up-front. In fact, if you have one of their sales in your pipeline there’s every likelihood they will be holding up the chain from exchanging.
This lack of talent is of great concern, so much so that we’re establishing a new training programme to encourage gifted people into the industry. Holding on to good staff by offering excellent career progression and rewards is surely something very few internet agents are able to offer.
Don’t let ‘downsizing’ be a dirty word
It’s time to have an honest conversation with people at the top of the housing ladder about the insufficient supply of suitable family homes in the housing market and to highlight to them that ‘downsizing’ is not a dirty word.
There are many people in properties that are far too large for them, with empty nesters rattling around in what was once a family home bustling with children.
It’s understandable that they want to keep their money in what is probably their best possible investment in the current climate, or they want to retain their fond family memories or can’t find the right property to downsize to. In fact, in a recent survey that we conducted, almost a third said they would move to a smaller property but the stamp duty was too high.
Until we tackle this issue at this end of the market, especially with an ageing population, what hope do the first-time buyers ever have of getting on and moving up the housing ladder?
We simply don’t have enough stock to meet demand and we need to release more family homes for second-steppers, otherwise first-time buyers will continue to be priced out.
Meanwhile, first-time buyers continue to be caught in the rent trap, unable to get a deposit together. It’s time the Government gave them some benefits, like removing stamp duty.
Instead of an Englishman’s home being his (or her) castle, surely it’s time for people to see downsizing as an honourable act, releasing a property for another family to enjoy until their own families fly the nest and the cycle begins again.