Online agents… Where are they headed?

 

Since the announcement by Agents Mutual last year that they would be launching a completely new property portal namely Onthemarket.com there has been a concentrated coverage by the media on the subject, including all the pros and cons of having a new property portal, comments from agents and their reactions to the “one other” portal, never before had property portals been discussed in such depth, it initiated a strong debate within the industry regarding the changes about to happen and the savings the traditional Estate Agents would be making in the future by making certain choices in their advertising strategy. The Big two property portals Rightmove and Zoopla came under the spotlight like never before, it was inevitable as the agents joining Onthemarket.com were asked to choose between the two, then added to that a completely new free portal was announced “Houser” which would really put the cat amongst the pigeons.

With such coverage going on regarding property portals the online agent appeared to have been overlooked as a force in the industry, very little over that time had been mentioned about them , is it because they are not seen as sufficiently strong competion to the traditional Estate Agent or Letting Agent? are they seen as not professional enough in comparison to the traditional high street agent? worth noting online agents are allowed on both Rightmove and Zoopla but banned from OnTheMarket, which launches on Monday.

There are certain entrepreneurs with vision who see the online agent as being the future for the property sales business, I remember one episode of the Dragons Den when an online estate agency business was presented to the Dragons, no one invested that day but there was a consensus of opinion led by I think Peter Jones that online estate agency was the way forward. More recently HouseSimple has attracted attention from Carphone Warehouse founder Sir Charles Dunstone who appears along with business partner Roger Taylor to have invested £5m into the online agent. They have been mentioned as saying that they like the management and that Britains house seller’s will benefit from big savings in costs with a better experience, they see HouseSimple as being one of the big winners in the online industry. Another big player in the industry is Emoov, they have recently secured another £1.5m in financing via a London venture capital firm, Episode 1, this follows a deal some 12 months back with Spire Ventures, a Mayfair based private equity house. Since the deal with Spire Emoov has expanded its management team with the appointment of chief operating officer Taylor Wescoatt, a former eBay and Time Out product executive, and head of marketing Stephen Jury, who previously worked at Motors.co.uk and Ladbrokes. The Managing partner Simon Murdoch of Episode 1 an early backer of Zoopla is quoted as saying he was drawn to EMoov because it is “obsessed about providing a fantastic service for customers in large markets” and that the agency has “the team, product and customer-centric approach” to succeed. These two online agents have certainly attracted the attention of proven winners in the investment industry and it would appear are well on the road to better days as we move forward into 2015 and beyond, no one can be complacent in the ever changing and improving property selling/buying industry in the UK.

Allen Walkey

Highly experienced businessman with a successful career in property sales and investment both in the UK and abroad. Now a freelance writer and blogger for the property and Investment Industry, keeping readers up-to-date with changes and events in a rapidly changing world.

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