Around one in four estate agents across the UK have quietly pulled their listings off some of the UK’s major property portals like Zoopla, Rightmove and Primelocation.
Why? To instead put them on a new website called OnTheMarket that they themselves own a share in.
Those behind the new website – led by Savills and others – which requires agents to choose only one other website to advertise on, have claimed that it is because the fees charged by portals are too expensive. In reality, the actual fees are on average less than £50 per property, a fraction of the fees earned by agents (which are now £5,000 on average and much higher for the likes of Savills).
Some commentators have suggested this is the largest conflict of interest ever to exist in UK estate agency. By no longer marketing a client’s property where the largest audience of active buyers exists, properties get less exposure and the client gets less money. And all so the agent can save money and promote a website they own at their own client’s expense.
The latest independent data from web monitoring firm Hitwise shows that in its first week, the new agent-owned website got a meagre 58,000 visits. By contrast, each of Zoopla and Rightmove received many millions (over 150 times more) of visits during the same period. Sellers using an agent no longer on all the major portals have lost a huge audience of potential buyers, likely resulting in reduced viewings and potentially costing them thousands of pounds off the price of their home just so that their agent can earn an extra £50 per property sale.
Lawrence Hall of Zoopla said: “Marketing a property as widely as possible is an essential part of getting the best price. Most property searches are now conducted online, so being on all the UK’s main property portals is something that sellers today simply take for granted. That all changed last week and any seller using an agent who restricts marketing is going to get less interest in their property as a result. Most agents (three in four) don’t do this but sellers now need to beware of those who do limit marketing exposure. The single most important question a seller should now ask a prospective agent is where they will be marketing their property to ensure they are on all the big portals like Zoopla, Rightmove and PrimeLocation.”
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