Free to use Property Portals – Are you really interested?

Cracking the property portal scene could mean a hefty profit coming your way, but is it really achievable without ‘high finance’ or ‘knowing the right people’? They say that to have a serious contender to the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla would require £100 million marketing budget to get the website working and both the industry and consumers knowing about it, trusting it and importantly, using it too.

So, can some of these new start ups offering free placement on their property portal (or scraping content as we have recently seen) really work and give anyone listing on them a return on their time investment?

We get to hear about many new start up property portals here at Estate Agent Networking from serious ideas to hopeful ones with many people asking us questions on the best way to approach introducing their concept to the industry.

We have seen the expansion of OnTheMarket in 2015 where they have made a serious indent on the numbers of agents using Zoopla and we also had for a period of time Houser hitting the scene with a different approach in trying to build a ‘new search engine for property’ – Have we really seen anything else in the meantime?

Some may say and expect the likes of eMoov and PurpleBricks to be the new property portals going forwards, building their own database of property online. Other will stick with traditional estate agents and see no other contender to Rightmove as this portal, though costs being high, so many estate agents say, delivers the results agents are after and the name is more or less a household one with consumers.

It is safe to say that most estate agents will always be looking for the edge over their local competition and keen to explore new ways, but attempting to enter the industry with just another free to use property portal will not really work unless you have the above mentioned marketing budget or are bringing something totally unique.

How can you improve your chances of making a success of creating a new property portal for the UK Property Industry? Here are some tips:

  • Study fully the current state of the market and the recent history. Look at big names in the industry, both brands and people and research where they are currently and recent success and failure stories about them.
  • How are the consumers that you looking to attract communicating these days and importantly, how are they searching for property.
  • Check out some of the bigger names in the industry that Estate Agents network around, such as on-line news channels, industry awards, exhibitions, industry publications and research the cost to advertise on them.
  • Speak with the property software companies out there and see how new portals engage with them. This will be vital as the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla and these software companies all work together in order to get listings from estate agents out to consumers.
  • Think about a survey or at least, only a test run of your concept to see how it will be received and use results to determine if you should carry things on or what need the industry has / feedback they give you.
  • Think about something unique, maybe a general property portal is one step too far, what about a property portal for your county, a property portal for homes with swimming pools or one purely for property under £100,000…
  • Use the likes of WordPress to build your property platform as there are many already built templates out there which will save you time and money if used.
  • Use the likes of social media to build your following and to also understand which estate agents are most responsive to innovation / PropTech in the industry and communicate closely with them so that they can test run your portal and share positive results to their followers for you. You are better testing your portal with a handful of estate agents over hoping that you can find 100’s of estate agents to guinea pig for you.
  • A good name for your portal is vital going forward, try and avoid the likes of domains names that it is obvious you are using cause everything else is taken, ie homesandhousesuk or seekyournewproperty and stick to catchy names or one / two word domains which you may have to purchase off someone who is ‘domain squatting‘. The best ones include PrimeLocation, RightMove, Zoopla OnTheMarket (ok that is three words, but you get the point I am trying to make).
  • It is very hard to build something such as a property portal on your own. If you have a good idea for one then think about bringing on board some co-founders with different strengths. Yes, you may not be a 100% owner of your idea, but you’ll stand a better chance of making things work as a team.
  • Dream big, but put in to place strong foundations. The industry is usually very critical and you are likely to read the likes of ‘another property portal on the scene, we have too many’ or ‘it won’t work, we have Rightmove and we do not want anymore’ – Learn from people telling you what you are doing wrong or what they need more over what you are planning to do, do not learn from those throwing sticks and stones… #ThickSkin needed.

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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