How Are The Portals Profiting From Agents’ Data?

Christopher May, Founder and Director of Residential People

There is growing discontent amongst agents as increasingly, the large portals are using their inventory data to boost profits and many feel they are getting a raw deal.

This is part of a strategy, shared by all the major portals, to develop new products and services and increase their engagement in the property transaction. The portals are making huge sums of money by using agents’ inventory data and the rewards are unfortunately one-sided. So how do the portals drive income from the data and could agents benefit from a share in the profits? And why should the agent even have to share their profits?

The portals have built sophisticated CRM systems which give them huge control over agents’ inventory to generate multiple income streams, beyond just listings. In fact, they also control where an agent can market their properties.  We have found that there are certainly barriers to entry and even what could be considered controlling behaviour, when an agent that uses a portal owned CRM wants to list inventory on our free to list website.

In fact, the portals are heavily investing heavily in new routes to market for this highly valuable data. For example, uSwitch was bought by Zoopla for £160 million and as a result of this deal, the portal can farm agents’ data and promote their own products.

The portals have developed a range of products and services on their sites, including   conveyancing, referencing, mortgages, insurance products and credit cards to drive incremental revenue streams and profits.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights just how much income and value could potentially be passed onto the agent. For example, thousands they can be made just by building an insurance book. Most agents are simply unaware of how much potential profit they could generate and what additional revenue streams they are missing out on.

Isn’t it about time that agents should start benefiting from their data to increase their profits?

At Residential People we have just announced that we are changing our model so that the agents can own and control their own data with a vote being cast on every aspect of how our portal makes money. This is important because without an agents inventory a portal is not a portal.

We need to learn from the mistakes of the past and remember the old saying ‘a leopard never will change his spots’.  Now is the chance, whilst we are all at home, to reflect on what world we want to come back to, to hit the reset button.

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