Online agent Russell Quirk of eMoov is considering mounting a legal challenge to Agents’ Mutual.
He told Eye yesterday: “This would be on the basis that it is entirely unlawful to discriminate against one estate agent or another.
“Their statement, along the lines that they will not allow cheaper online agents to list, is blatantly anti-consumer and entirely about self-protection, as traditional estate agents are the owners of this portal.
“This clearly breaches the Competition Act 1998.
“I will be considering reporting them to the authorities where I understand the potential fine for discriminating in an anti-competitive manner is substantial.”
However, Quirk also said he did not think Agents’ Mutual will succeed.
He said: “I think Agents’ Mutual are doomed to mediocrity at best.
“They will have nowhere near enough consumer traction and not enough inventory or budget to gain that traction.”
Quirk also said that he was unworried by the potential for some inventory to vanish off both Rightmove and Zoopla.
He said: “My view is that we’re a long way from the consumers themselves reacting to any reduction in inventory on the two main portals.
“They will still visit RM and Zoopla in their droves, and so for me, that’s what matters, not any seeming reduction in inventory to, say, 900,000 homes from a million. Such a difference is irrelevant.
“And that’s what gets lost in the AM/ Rightmove/ Zoopla debate in that it is absolutely about what the consumer does and wants, not what a new portal or high street agent says they should want.”
Quirk also wrote an opinion piece for Eye following our story yesterday about eMoov’s TV advert and readers’ reactions. The piece is well worth reading – whatever your own opinions – and is in today’s newsletter.