Monday January 26th 2015 will see a change in the way potential buyers and tenants in Bath can search for a property online with the launch of a new property portal by Agents Mutual - OnTheMarket.com. Set up by agents, endorsed by both the NAEA & ARLA and, according to their own website "100% agent-owned and agent-controlled", the stated long term goal of Agents Mutual is to break the current portal pricing monopoly (duopoly) of Rightmove and Zoopla. Agents that list their properties on OnThe Market.com will also have to agree only to list their stock on ONE other portal. In addition, the new portal will only be open to "full-service, office-based estate and lettings agents".
So, that's some of the context but what will it mean come the end of January for sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants in our local area?
So far, I have heard of at least 9 Bath based sales & letting agents signed up to OnTheMarket.com and presumably thus dropping their coverage on either Rightmove or Zoopla - some of the larger names have already openly declared their choice in the national press or industry media (www.propertyindustryeye.com or www.estateagenttoday.co.uk have articles covering this) - so, at the very least, there will be a significant Bath presence on the new portal. However, it is also known that many of the larger/national corporate agents have long term tie in deals with both existing portals which will preclude any changes in their coverage. Additionally, the stated membership criteria of Agents Mutual will not allow online agents or agents without a "high street presence" to join, which excludes several Bath agents of varying sizes and stock levels. Lastly, there are no doubt several Bath agents who will be taking a "wait and see" approach.
Rightmove currently lists 73 sales & letting agents in Bath (including multiple branches of the same brand) whilst Zoopla (which includes Primelocation) lists 65 (with the same criteria). It will be interesting to see how these numbers change as the new portal goes live and agents have to drop one or either of the Big Two - with a months notice to give, this week is decision time for many in order to be live on OnTheMarket.com on launch day. It is of course also worthy of note that no portal contains ALL the property for sale in Bath - even Rightmove for example (as the one with the highest number of agents listed) does not currently list private sales or lets.
Given the above information, it seems sensible for Bath buyers and tenants to prepare to add another portal to their search criteria in the New Year or risk missing out on spotting the right property.
Carey Gilliland is blogging on behalf of Madison Oakley Estate Agents. Outside his busy job as an estate agent Carey is a keen gardener (he grows specialist chilli pepper varieties) and loves sea fishing.