Estate agency chief attacks ‘army of providers’ feeding off backs of independents

A leading industry figure has made a blistering attack on the “army of providers swooping down on agents and eating away at their bottom lines”.

Robert Sargent, CEO of the Acorn Group, said that it is hard to see what value some of these providers – which mostly go under the ‘proptech’ title – could possibly add to estate agency businesses, calling them “emperors’ new clothes ventures trying to earn a living from the hard work of quality independent estate agents”.

Sargent, whose rapidly growing business has 30 branches in London and Kent and employs 400, said: “There is a plethora of ex-estate agents and marketing people who are trying to sell their products into estate agents’ businesses. Invariably a monthly subscription is involved. They are feeding off the backs of  agents.

“They are telling agents how useful their products are, in just the same way that the smallest agents are being milked the hardest by portals, without whom they are led to believe they cannot survive.

“I would urge agents to make their choices very carefully. Are these providers really doing anything that an agent cannot do for themselves, and more cheaply?”

Yesterday, Sargent announced another acquisition by his firm, that of south-east London independent UniPlan Residential Estate Agents, and also said he would be opening another six cold-start branches next year.

UniPlan has operated for almost 30 years. Sargent said: “We concluded the sale in just six weeks. It’s an excellent business, so we’re very pleased. It will continue to operate under its existing brand, and we have taken on all the staff.”

Sargent revealed to EYE that Acorn has acquired six sites on the London and north-east Kent borders which will open next year, from March onwards. Locations include Swanley, Woolwich and Plumstead, and a seventh site is currently being negotiated.

Does this mean that Acorn has no plans to launch an online offering? “We are committed to a traditional estate agency service with a physical presence in all our areas.

“Are we going to discount our service in return for a lesser fee? No. We’re not going to do it.

“Almost all our work is very local, within a mile of each office, and we know many of our clients personally.

“The business is changing. It is not as easy to sell a house as it was six months or a year ago. It is a hands-on, advice-driven industry, and I expect these to become greater, not lesser, features of successful estate agency. I also think it would be impossible to run an online lettings business, because landlords increasingly need access to help and expertise that cannot be provided digitally.”

Sargent yesterday attended an OnTheMarket roadshow – Acorn is a founding Gold member – and said that he will support the bid for a flotation.

He said: “OTM probably has 35% to 40% of the market, but there is no doubt that growth has plateaued and we have now got to look at powering it up – even if that means sacrificing some of our original ideals.”

He said litigation part-funded by  Zoopla had also slowed recruitment, although OTM went on to win the case.

Sargent paid tribute to OTM chief executive Ian Springett: “The proposal is to raise £50m, based on a valuation of between £200m and £250m. Whichever way you look at it, that is a tremendous achievement for a young company.”

Questions were asked at yesterday’s meeting about the shares, potentially worth £20m, that Springett will get in the event of a successful float, but Sargent said that Springett revealed he had worked for nearly two years for nothing, before the launch of OnTheMarket’s parent company, Agents’ Mutual.

“He got it to the point where the project had legs, and he has made a good job of it. That is deserving of a reward.”

He believes that the flotation will receive the 75% support of voting members that is required, and that it could go higher.

But will investors bite? “I believe they will – categorically. If enough members vote for it, I think it will fly – and the more members who vote, say 90%, the more investors will like it.

“My belief is that independents must regain control of the sector. There is no let-up in Rightmove’s hikes in prices. But if we were to to stop uploading our properties tomorrow, it would not have a business.”

Acorn gave up Zoopla under OTM’s one other portal rule. He said: “There has been absolutely no impact on our business. If anything, it has thrived. Yet we were always led to believe we had to list on two portals.”

Sargent said that a float would give OTM a much-needed war chest, to give it “a real chance”.

He said: “The independent sector needs to get on board. I would appeal to independents to look outside their own high street and look at the industry as a whole.”

Acorn was picked out by the London Stock Market as ‘one to watch’ a couple of years ago. The list normally includes private firms which the stock market believes could float. So, will Acorn do this?

Sargent said it was ruled out for at least the time being: “We have an excellent management team, all of whom are operational. None of us would be happy to lose any control over the way we run the company.

“What we might do is acquire a business of a similar size to us, but at any rate, we will keep growing, and we continue to look for acquisitions.”

x

Email the story to a friend

57 Comments

  1. Simon Bradbury

    Easy Tiger!

    Nobody forces an estate agent to use the services of any supplier – it’s a matter of choice, as is deciding whether or not to be a member of OTM.

    Personally, I THANK the very long list of the “army of providers” for allowing us the opportunity to develop our businesses should we wish.

    Report
  2. sb007ck

    “OTM probably has 35% – 40% of the market”??? You’re here all week right!

    Report
  3. danny

    Has a go at people selling stuff not worth price tag then endorses idea that investors should pay £4-5 a share and Springett should get £20 million …..

    Report
  4. Eric Walker

    Many of these suppliers are helping cut costs and add revenue streams. With the assault on our industry, I am grateful for the innovative ideas. If you buy into a product which doesn’t add value, it’s more the fault of the buyer than the provider.

    Report
  5. Robert May

    That is a very wide brush Mr. Sargeant.  Being a service supplier to a service industry is one of the hardest things anyone can choose to do; Agents are naturally cautious about change and will always assess the service being offered  with a view to is this something the existing staff could or should be doing more cheaply or effectively.  Agents need to be able to trust  & respect those they buy from and that is not something any firm  or any one can just magic up or code. Most Proptech firms never make it and they are certainly aren’t swilling Champagne at the expense of agents

    Having survived since 1994 being an ex estate agent providing technology into the property industry can honestly say I can’t think of anyone who got a larger payout after 10- 15 or 20 years of building up a business than those big payouts that were being  talked about  on here last week.  Mike, Geoff, Gary, Mark, Les, Oliver, Tom are all people who worked long hours over many years to build up good businesses that sold for a fraction of their BIG DATA worth just a few years later.

    Each firm, each service, each individual, each offering ought to be assessed in terms of what they  bring to the table, their domain knowledge, experience, their integrity and their reputation and how/ if all of that benefits the agent.  From my experience that’s what most agents do, they certainly aren’t gullible Emperor fools

     

     

    Report
    1. MarkRowe

      Bloody love this reply!

      Report
    2. MarkRowe

      I too was at this meeting in London.

      I was waiting to see how this went before commenting on my thoughts…

      Exactly the same as I thought before the meeting. I’m voting out. Don’t get me wrong I can see that it will be a cash injection into the business. However, OTM needs to start thinking about its end user by using USP’s. This doesn’t necessarily need £50m, it needs to consult it’s mutual members and talk to third party service providers.

      It’s a short sighted move. End of.

      Report
      1. AgentV

        I agree….it would be a cash injection….but will grow an entity with principles into a money maker profit driven company.

        OTM could still be grown substantially as a mutual…..with the right ideas, innovation and the right people in place enthused to make it happen!

        Report
        1. Paul

          It can’t AgentV, they tried herding the cats already.

          Report
          1. AgentV

            You can never herd cats…….but you can get them all to go in the same direction and come together to the same place if there is enough cream to go round.

            It depends what the cream is…..short term monetary gain or long term savings, control and increased business!

            Report
            1. Paul

              Unless the creams turned sour!!! 🙂

              Report
  6. smile please

    Most self conflicting story ever on eye?

    “We hate third party parasites, but I’m happy to fund a new portal to pull my pants down over the next 10 years and pay a bloke £20 million for doing naff all”

    Report
    1. Paul

      Smile, he will only get that if it succeeds.  If it succeeds, we all benefit.

      OTM hasn’t failed because of Springett, regardless of everyone’s personal views on Ian himself, the industry failed to make OTM a success.

      OTM had to change, the OOP rule was in place to assist it’s entry to the market, which it did.  In court, it was agreed it was a) legal and b) a sensible thing to do, to help it gain traction in a market dominated by two giants.

      Yet every man and his dog shouted it down as they knew better.  Now OTM is at a size, it will have to drop that rule if it goes on to get bigger, a pointed noted in court, but now everyone is shouting down that they are dropping it, they would have to?

      OTM is at a crossroads.

      Love him or loathe him, Ian has got OTM into a position where they can be taken to the market, raise £50m and float.  Not bad for a nothing 3rd portal that was supposed to be dead in a year.

      A portal that was so bad that one of the main two rival portals felt the need to chuck in £200k to help with a legal case.

      More than anyone else has managed to achieve.

      If institutions and the public are happy to take a company that can’t make profit from £1 to £5 a share, then I would think that with a company that’s climbed the hardest part of the mountain, there’s more than a few pounds that can be raised to take OTM to where it needs to go.

      Report
      1. smile please

        Behave Paul.

        What is the point of floating OTM? – it is making another portal who will sell products raise subscriptions.

        They have conned agents from the start.

        It is a complete waste of time and money. Agents that vote to float need their heads testing.

        Go back three years we were all moaning about having to pay for two portals now they want us to pay for three! – If it cannot work as a mutual it should not float.

        I believe OTM can still work as a mutual just without this board.

         

        Report
        1. Paul

          I will try to!

          I don’t think another board is going to deliver the results you seek.  The industry was given a simple question, would you like an agent run mutual website.  If so please join.

          The result, not enough people did.

          It’s like Brexit, the country voted out, so we need to get over it, regardless of which way we voted and if we thought the leavers or remainers were mad.

          Why would you pay for three?  That’s a choice for you to make, I wouldn’t go back to Zoopla, either with or without OTM in the frame.

          There has been no con from the start, if enough people had joined we wouldn’t be in this position. Ian hasn’t gone around telling people not to join.

          You can’t suggest that because not enough people joined, we have been conned.  The other options it to fold it all, that’s not a great outcome is it.

           

          Report
          1. smile please

            Reason i am saying we are conned is this has been the plan all along in my opinion.

            How many hundreds of thousands / millions have they spent orchestrating this float?

            Last 12 months zero advertising. Agents excepted this because of the court case.

            The board have shown themselves to be untrustworthy and self serving.

            Report
    2. :BiggerPicture:

      Cannot agree with you more Smile Please, Most contradictive lines in the story..

       

      “My belief is that independents must regain control of the sector. There is no let-up in Rightmove’s hikes in prices. But if we were to to stop uploading our properties tomorrow, it would not have a business.”

      Acorn gave up Zoopla under OTM’s one other portal rule.

       

      Can you preach to people if you don’t follow your own advice?

      Report
  7. AgentV

    OTM should STAY MUTUAL and could become THE ‘DISRUPTER PORTAL.’

    It doesn’t need to float to do that…..it just needs to incorporate some of the ideas and new products being developed that can substantially enhance it’s offering to independent Agents.

    For instance, what agent wouldn’t want to join a portal that helped generate more business for them than it cost in membership fees? More business, more members…..more members, more stock….more stock, more business!

    The ideas and development are out here in the independent community……and could and should be tried before going down the public route…..a route that will make it a shareholder owned company always looking to increase profits by increasing fees from guess who?

    This is not the right time…..if ever the independent sector needed a champion of innovation and principles on its side…it is now!

    Why can’t we together keep OTM mutual and make it into THE DISRUPTER PORTAL!

    Report
  8. bridget

    He contradicts himself as he urges members to support the floatation of OTM as ‘independents must take back control of the sector’ which presumably will be impossible to do in OTM once there are shareholders and institutions who are just interested in profits. The members don’t feel they have a voice now, so how could they have control after floatation. He then says he wouldn’t float his own business because he wouldn’t want to lose any control over the way the company is run!!

    Report
  9. FlyingSheep54

    Oh the irony!

    Report
  10. Beam Splitter

    Well I mean it’s obvious that the title and initial statement are purely there to draw the eye. After briefly mentioning those “dastardly” proptech firms Rob goes on to wax lyrical about his own business and OTM.

    Report
  11. Paul

    OTM could have been the portal you all wanted, but the wider agency world didn’t support it enough.  You can’t keep something together if it hasn’t got enough players in the team in the first place?

    It’s a bit like saying we have 7 fantastic players at the club, so if we can develop some more ideas on the training ground, do a few more drills and look at some new energy drinks. while we try to get the other four players on board, it will all come together.  In the meantime we are getting smashed 5 – 0 each week and the supporters are leaving by the thousands, until you have no club left at all.

    What do you expect Springett to do?  It’s not rocket science, we need more agents to sign up, but they haven’t for a variety of reasons, fear, non-belief in the product / concept, a legal battle, etc etc

    We had our chance…..

    So options need to be looked at, as in it’s current form it isn’t moving forward.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t be talking about this because we had all the members we needed, but we haven’t.

    Portals are nothing without us, so why the outcry.   3rd party suppliers are also, but he didn’t say all were, he said there is army of them and a plethora of ex-agents and marketing people that are telling you that you need them.  That’s a fact and it’s a fact you don’t need them all, so think hard about it.

    We have story after story on here of new products that are going to revolutionise our industry with the next must have thing, much of which won’t and aims to create an environment of over reliance on them, much like RM and Zoopla have done, convincing many of you that you need them and that you need to be on them all.

    Against a backdrop of a harder market, billion pound valuations for companies not making money, Estate agents being rubbished daily, a race to the bottom on fees, greater legislation to deal with and rising costs to run your business from all angles, The Acorn Group would appear to be bucking the trend, as are many others out there.

     

    Report
    1. AgentV

      So options need to be looked at, as in it’s current form it isn’t moving forward.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t be talking about this because we had all the members we needed, but we haven’t.

      But times change don’t they….and agent’s opinions change. It is clear the OOP rule is going to be dropped, so why not now (especially now with the court case over) have a major recruitment drive to attract as many new agents as possible to drive stock levels substantially up.

      The more agents that join, the more properties….and more public awareness will follow. Add in the mix new innovative products, such as collective marketing, to generate vendor leads…and all of a sudden you are on the way up again with momentum. Then you are in a much better place and a lot stronger….far easier to bring even more agents on board and vastly increase public awareness.

      Why not just try it and see?

      Report
      1. Paul

        AgentV, I share your passion and I’m not knocking you.

        All the points you make are the same ones that were rolled out to the industry, but not enough stepped forward, so why would they do so now?

        I’ve said before, all of those that opposed the OOP rule, the vast majority would still not have joined if it was dropped, because it was a convenient excuse to use for not joining.

        Clearly not everyone thinks the way you or I do, or the other thousands of agents that joined.   Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, if you were an agent, you knew about OTM, so could have joined if so inclined.

         

         

         

         

        Report
        1. ARC

          Hi Paul is your surname Smith by any chance as the nonsense you’re spouting can only be due to a substantial financial gain being on the cards?

          Report
          1. Paul

            LOL

            Gold Member, always have been and made it clear many years ago.

            I’ve also made it clear that I don’t need OTM to succeed, but I would like it to.

            If we just stick to the point though, do you believe you or anyone else get the other 3000-5000 agents on board that haven’t come on board so far?

            If you can’t, which is the likely outcome, what is your suggestion, fold it up, or shall we all buy some Purplebricks shares…..!

            Report
            1. AgentV

              Plan A should be to try and get the extra membership…..it can be done. The perception of agents for need of some control of our industry is now greater than ever. There is also a good plan B, but difficult to discuss that in open forum.

              Report
            2. ARC

              I suppose the short answer is no I don’t think you can. There are too many self serving agents out there that will kick OTM as it gives them a USP when in a vendors lounge that they haven’t got already because frankly they are properly a bit average and a bit lazy hence needing to be self serving.

              I suppose as an outsider looking in (not a business owner having to make the choice) it does strike me as bit turkeys voting for xmas on the basis of the current situation.

              In order to get the self serving etc on board it needs to be seen as adding real value as RM did 20 years ago or so. I think the people best placed to deliver that are the passionate agents themselves who know what they want and what their customers want and can deliver it without being beholden to an evil oligarchy RM and Z.

              I don’t believe the current board and senior management are able to do that as they seem to wanting an oligarchy of their own.

              Yes that was the short answer!

              Report
              1. Paul

                Thanks ARC, I believe we are beyond the point of no return.

                I wanted OTM to make it in it’s current form as much as any of the other pro remainers on here.

                When I was shouting from the roof tops, providing (IMO) reasonable debate / reasons to join OTM, I wasn’t thinking about floatation, I was thinking about supporting the original core ideals.

                Now those ideals can not be realised, I and others have to assess what to do next.

                I am having to vote, not because of my potential “substantial financial gain” but because it failed.  I didn’t want to get to this position, but I am here now.

                So faced with that, people now want me to (even though I have supported the idea and encouraged others to join the cause), not vote in favour of a float and to continue to flog a dead horse.

                As someone that would still like to see OTM make is an original investor I will support it.  Whilst Smile can call me and all the other agents that vote for it stupid, I would counter that we are now making an altogether different vote for a different end goal and I can’t let emotion or my original desire to see OTM succeed get in the way, because that OTM does not exist anymore.

                 

                Report
                1. ARC

                  All fair assumptions Paul I suppose the devil’s advocate in me would say what do you think a few quid and a slightly higher public profile offer after a float that is going to get the other 3000+ agents on board to give the oligarchy a run for their money or would being the 3rd portal be enough of a success though not really bringing anything much to the table unless you happen to get a few shares out the deal.

                  Report
                  1. Paul

                    There is the question. Currently OTM isn’t miles away from a tipping point but having already reached it’s plateau.

                    The extra cash and additional public awareness will no doubt help turn those agents heads and with a plan for future growth.

                    A float, as I am sure you will know, if successful, will allow the company to raise further funds, as necessary, look at PB raising extra funds to try and break America.

                    OTM needed more agents on board to get more income to help drive the PR side.  Now that they have plateaued they need to invest and that money isn’t coming from the agents.

                    The public and investors don’t care about the the history and the board and what agents think of Ian.

                    No one is getting rich if it doesn’t work and I am sure that the dynamics will change on the back of a float.

                    People talk of how it’s going to cost us in the long run, but it’s costing us now and I’m not sure with 3 portals it will make it worse.  If successful, it will highlight that agents can make a difference, but it would be a shame it took a float rather to do that, rather than via the mutual route.

                    I do worry though that there is a lot of apathy out there!

                    Report
                    1. ARC

                      I think it’s a lot more than apathy in some cases!!

                      Report
  12. Robyn Banks

    In a perfect world, the leading portal would have (from day one) adopted the approach of offering a limited number of sponsored results sold to the highest bidder (like Google), and all other listings treated equally, with standard agent fees listed on their website, based around the number of offices your company has.

    We don’t live in that world though. We live in a world where Rightmove repeatedly hammer agents (who are their lifeblood) with price hikes, complex contracts, and regularly find new ways to compel us spend more money with them. It’s relentless and it never ends. Does anyone here actually look forward to their Rightmove contract meeting? Anyone? We should be excited about meeting them, not be dreading it.

    We are the reason Rightmove exist. Not the other way around. And Zoopla is no better.

    A portal is a portal to be honest. They’re all the same really. And it’s not that hard to build a good one, as proven by OTM.

    Ultimately, what really matters which one the public see as the most popular way to find a property.

    And to get into that dominant position takes marketing money. If we want change – that needs to be our money. We allowed Rightmove to do this to us. Only we can change it.

    I see this as the only way for them to sufficiently grow into a real RM competitor.

    Report
    1. AgentV

      But when they do the VC’s will take control and it won’t be owned by agents anymore…..and you will have three portals with escalating costs!

      Report
  13. snapdup

    If agents want to find an alternative option to the increasingly high prices of RM then the industry needs the innovation that proptech brings.  Necessity is the driver of innovation and no consumer needs OTM because they have better alternatives.

    The problem with property portals though is that they have driven the housing markets unsustainable price growth by creating a funnelling of consumers to get the maximum price and so justifying the vouchers expense to agents. Now that the market has cooled because the growth wasn’t sustainable, agents pay more and receive less fees. So it doesn’t surprise me that more layering of cost is worrisome, but it does seem ridiculous to be condemning the proptech industry while promoting OTM which is a proptech firm itself.

    Property portals market a property, but an agent should sell it. The art of selling has been replaced by marketing, now we are at a point in the market where good old fashioned sales skills and customer service will rise once more – because as I said before, necessity is the driver.

    Report
  14. Dicky97

    OTM has failed miserably in comparison to both Rightmove and Zoopla. It has a pathetic website with little added value to agents or the public, no traffic to speak of and is never mentioned by the public as a property website in casual discussions, in fact I would suggest that the vast majority of home owners have never even heard of OTM. To make wild statements that it has 35-40% of the market tells you all you need to know about this self interest article and wow Ian Springett worked for two years for nothing so he desrves to make £20M from the float. The only way to try and tackle the major portals is for the agents to own and run a site for the benefit of the public and the agents in keeping costs to a sensiblle level and not to try and become another Rightmove or Zoopla, but therein lies the problem. You can’t do this without a massive war chest and guess where that money would eventually have to come from to fund the onward investment to keep up with Rightmove. Investors want profits and the agents would be back where we started from apart from the fact that the portal market may be more fragmented than ever. Sometimes it is better to have a dominant player that everyone recognises with something like OTM in the background as a sensibility check on price. The only reason this would get support is to save face and provide an exit for the current members who must realise the mistake they made by joining in the first place.

    Report
    1. Robyn Banks

      I’m genuinely curious. In what way is the OTM website ‘pathetic’ compared to RM. What features are missing?

      Report
      1. Dicky97

        Is this a serious response as I can’t believe it is. Your comment  ‘A portal is a portal to be honest. They’re all the same really. And it’s not that hard to build a good one, as proven by OTM ‘ tells all. Leave the portals to the people who know what they are doing and have huge resources available for research and development that actually benefits the house buying public and therefore us as agents and embrace it. Time and again this has been tried without success and there is always somebody else to pick up the broken mantle and try again under the banner of ‘it’s for the benefit of us all’ but secretly knowing that it might just be a way of creating another windfall on the back of us mugs.As a matter of point I have been an agent for nearly 40 years so it is not that important for me as I am retiring in the next few years but I would of liked nothing better to have seen a first class portal run by the agents offering exceptional quality of use to the public that was the clear portal of choice but I’m afraid this will NEVER happen. Estate agents are a breed apart and you will never herd enough of them together at any one time. Good luck but stick to what we know best and embrace the fabulous sites that are RM and Zoopla.

        Report
  15. smile please

    I usually try to stay to fact and not let emotion cloud my comments.

    But i am so livid at how stupid some agents are.

    I hope if OTM does float, the share price plummets to circa a quid, you have tied yourselves into a FURTHER 5 years and OTM, sell products like you have never seen before. – Careful what you wish for, Going into a tighter market and tying yourselves into a further 5 years shows how stupid some agents really are and should not run a business.

    They want to to bolster the share price at circa £4.

    Countrywide is only worth circa £1.60 a share and they turn out multi million pound profits!

    Enjoy the next 5 years pain. Let me know your best staff so when you cannot afford to pay them i can poach them.

    Report
    1. AgentV

      Can some agents just not see the dangers of the flotation route, and the possible motivations of the board for recommending it?

      Report
    2. Paul

      So you let emotion take over on that post then.

      Maybe we were all stupid in the first place by believing we could bring the industry together and buying into OTM.

      Report
      1. AgentV

        But what OTM needs right now is a board with ‘Vision’ not clouded by personal gain. If they stood to gain little from this proposal would they still be recommending the same course of action?

        The right people to make OTM work as a mutual are out there….believe me!

        Report
        1. Paul

          It’s not the boards vision I’m worried about, it’s the 5000 odd agents that need convincing!

          Report
          1. PeeBee

            “It’s not the boards vision I’m worried about, it’s the 5000 odd agents that need convincing!”

            Erm… no, it isn’t.

            2700 approx Member FIRMS. That’s just cut your number virtually in half.

            BUT… note the terminology used:

            “He believes that the flotation will receive the 75% support of voting members that is required”

            If only 1,000 Members can be @r$ed to vote – does that mean that only 750 of them need to vote ‘For’ to pass the Resolution?

            Tell you what – I’ll find out tomorrow…

            Report
            1. Ostrich17

              PeeBee – Perhaps you can ask how many eligible votes there are – it wasn’t raised at our meeting.

              All current advertisers appear to have a vote (albeit some votes represent a higher value) as some will have signed a 12 month membership contract ?

              They need a majority in number of votes representing 75% of the scheme value.

              There are 8 board members with 8 votes representing nearly 10% of the scheme value.

              Report
              1. PeeBee

                Too late was the cry in respect of your wanting the question asked – the meeting was pretty much already over when you posted this.

                That doesn’t mean it wasn’t asked, though!

                Thing is – if I told you then Mr Springett would have no other option than to shoot me.

                I’m sure that there are plenty of a certain breed of ‘Agent’ who would happily load the gun for him (and maybe a fair few REAL Agents as well…) – but they will have to wait.

                Someone else can open the can of worms if they wish – but I won’t chuck stuff into public domain that does not need to be there.

                I trust you understand why.

                Report
  16. Andrew

     
    Sadly the public often confuse convenience with service.
    Whilst I accept that are some great bits of technology out there, in many cases they are used by agents to mask a lack of experience, professionalism or knowledge.

    Our industry is being eroded and cheapened by “easy fixes” which as we have seen in many cases, fail the public they serve. Back yourself guys, employ and train the right people and offer your clients good honest customer service and you won’t need any unnecessary gizmos!

     
    On the subject of OTM, all I will say is that the opportunity was there to make a real difference, but too many agents were either too scared or ill prepared to take that chance. Perhaps they weren’t totally convinced by the product, but the concept behind it was surely sound, or were you happy just paying the piper every time they called??
     
    Interesting times to come, but I for one will be supporting the float and look forward to continuing the battle against the TechBullies out there.
     

    Report
    1. AgentV

      Supposing OTM had a product that Rightmove and Zoopla found very difficult to compete with. Would you back floating then…knowing that the bigger boys could just snap it up in acquisition?

      Report
  17. marcH

    This debate is in danger of becoming circular: OTM was a great concept with enough innovative ideas (OOP, no on-liners, no bells & whistles on the website) to distinguish it from the duopoly and make it a success – but not enough agents backed it. Because not enough agents backed it, OTM failed to gain traction. Because it failed to gain traction, it was criticised and undermined from within and without. Because it was treading water, it decided to find an alternative strategy which would at least buy it some time.

    Now rather than going on about how much Springett and his chums are going to make from this IPO, I would rather focus on the principles we should keep. Following the meeting I attended last week, I was contacted by some admin guy from AM who was looking for feedback. I told him I was distinctly unhappy about sharing our website with Purplebricks and other on-liners and developers – and because of this I was sitting on the fence. If enough of us put our objections forward when contacted it may be possible to get some changes to the proposal rather than having to accept a fait accompli.

    My only comfort is knowing that at least for 5 years we are all going to be tied in together for 80% of our agent-held shares and that our fees will not be gouging out our bottom line for the same period.

    Agent V keeps teasing us with the ideas he has to enhance OTM in its present form – what are they and why have they never been put forward before ? #intrigued

    Report
    1. AgentV

      Agent V keeps teasing us with the ideas he has to enhance OTM in its present form – what are they and why have they never been put forward before ? #intrigued…………The ideas that are out there would be just as useful to RM, Z or PB….which is why they have to be kept under wraps until they are fully developed or backed by a mutual such as OTM whom they will work much better for…why? because they are aimed at generating more business for independents through Intelligent Marketing to generate more public awareness and engagement.

      If you have money to invest and help the development take place faster then we might be able to share the ‘Ideas Network’ concepts under an NDA.

      in@agentv.co.uk

       

      Report
  18. KByfield04

    Dont spend money on things you dont need- but back a third portal!? The bizarre expectation that OTM will draw £50m of investment yet those investors will ‘look after its members’ keeping prices low is naive and, quite frankly, offensive. I have only seen articles from senior members defending its new path- all of whom stand to benefit hugely should it be successful. All that will happen is that agents will end up migrating across all 3 portals, increasing costs whilst receiving the same leads- so what’s the point? OTM’s primary goal was to reduce marketing costs for agents and de-stabilise the portal ‘monopoly’- it has failed at both and is now setting out in the opposite direction whilst yelling at agents to ‘get onboard’.

    Suppliers to the industry (and I say this as an agent of 15 years that is about to also start wearing the supplier hat) have a tough job- we’re a weary and cautious lot that (usually) spots snake-oil a way off. Peroducts need to be effective, efficient, good value and (in an ever increasing tech landscape) be integrated, or be in the process of being integrated with, as many software platforms as possible. They must continue to evolve- in terms of tech, market & legislation- to keep delivering ever-increasing value to their agent clients. We work with an array of suppliers and we would not be a fraction of the company we are without them- they empower and enable our company to do ever-greater things.

    Another rather strange OTM piece that feels like it is yelling at the rest of us.

    Report
  19. TheSheepman73

    Unbelievable reading some of the guff on here of certain Deluded Gold Members who believe OTM has benefited anyone other than Mr Springett and maybe a few of his co-horts!

    It is at best some magician work by Mr Springett; pulling the wool over many agents eyes and delivering him a multi million pound windfall based on some faniciful company value of OTM.

    The real life version of Now You See Me; ie Day Light Robbery! My local agent is more just frightened of the legal consequences of his OTM nightmare in his attempt to leave.

    Has it really benefitted the most important people in all of this; the home buyers or sellers ……. or is it really just been about serving a few people who seen an opportunity to make some money and to hell with many great independent and estate agents groups who had been hoodwinked in an attempt to restrict portal rate increases!

    Report
  20. marcH

    Your comments might have some credibility if you had put up and supported OTM from the beginning.

    Report
  21. Whaley

    Couldn’t agree more with Mr Sargent, unless unwittingly he’s referring to us in which case I couldn’t disagree more.

    The explosion of PropTech many of which hit a niche area of the business is a fact of life, but it’s akin to the explosion of Apps in our personal lives on phones. For every Uber app which Is invaluable there’s a hundred left crying out for attention in folders stranded in your phone like digital members of Unloved Island.

    Ultimately it’s about usage and their returns as ever, if it’s the likes of dare I say it useful PropTech which delivers like CRM software which is normally the first thing you log into and the last thing you log out of at night, then it’s a clearly demonstrably useful tool.

    However you’ve got every supplier under the sun stating convincingly that you just need ‘one more instruction’ to justify the investment in the ACME 2000 Applicant Tyre Kicker Management service.

    Pretty soon with all of these services just like Tax Day you’ll have ‘Parasitic Supplier Day’ which means you have to work till June before you start actually making any profit.

    ROI and the importance of actually measuring it properly is of course the order of the day.

    Report
  22. Paul

    With £50m representing 20% of the share capital, that means the balance is made up of agents.  So agents will own the majority stake in the business.

    Unless after 5 years they cash in on the share price that is, but no one on here would be doing that, so why worry?…………

    Report
    1. smile please

      Are you stupid or just obtuse?

      Why worry if its floated? – Go and get a book out on the basic’s of how stocks and shares work.

      Come back when you have got past page two and edit your comment.

      Either you are unfit to run a business or you are a rep for OTM.

      Report
  23. Kyero56

    I guess OTM has some kind of a plan for what they’ll do with £50M should it materialise?

    It should buy an 8-10 year advertising runway at least: http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/purplebricks-named-as-spending-most-on-property-advertising-after-8m-spend/

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a Reply