Director of Capital & Coastal, Michael Riley, says OnTheMarket’s (OTM) strategic decision to break the dominance of market leaders Rightmove and Zoopla, by asking member agents to advertise on just one other property portal, effectively forcing agents to choose, has led to a 300% increase in enquiries for Capital & Coastal properties via Zoopla.
Following the launch of OnTheMarket.com at the end of January 2015, which has the backing of six large estate agency chains, 90% of agents who decided to take the plunge and sign up with OTM, chose to leave Zoopla in favour of Rightmove.
However, Michael Riley, a former head of Head of Sales for Savills and Head of Operations for Romans in the Thames Valley, believes that despite the vast amount of money which has been invested to ensure the success of OTM, it will never generate enough traffic to the site to take ‘poll position’. Meanwhile, his business is benefitting from lesser competition and an abundance of house hunters viewing Capital & Coastal properties, as it remains one of the few South Coast agents listed with Zoopla, giving them a distinct advantage over their competitors. Michael Riley said: “The success of a website is not just determined by stock, but traffic coming to the site to visit that stock. If you are a vendor, you want as many people as possible to be viewing your property to ensure you find the right buyer. There is a risk to vendors that they will end up not achieving the maximum value for their property, as enquiries via OTM will be fewer and vendors may end up agreeing a price too early just to secure a sale.
Although OnTheMarket has made headway in accumulating listings, visits per day are only 3% that of Zoopla’s (38,000 versus 1.25 million) igniting concerns for its future. “It is difficult to see how they will turn that around quickly enough to avoid agents switching back”
Riley goes on to say that it’s possible that Zoopla could decide to change their business model altogether and become a direct selling agent. “Obviously this would be a bold move for Zoopla but it’s worked in the US so no reason why it can’t here too.”