OTM agents making themselves ‘look silly’ says Zoopla boss Chesterman

A barrage of anti OnTheMarket stories have continued to appear in the national press. An interview in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph with Alex Chesterman appeared under a headline which said OTM estate agents “look silly”.

In the article by Anna White, Chesterman (pictured) said of OTM: “The only damage being done here is to the estate agent branches that have signed up with OTM.

“They look silly and disingenuous.”

Chesterman – who was yesterday named as one of Britain’s top 500 most influential people by the Sunday Times and Debrett’s – went on to say of OTM agents: “They are anti-consumer and regressive.”

According to the article, 70% of OTM agents have dropped Zoopla under the “one other portal’ rule.

Chesterman also claimed that OTM will have “the unintended consequence of ending sole agency agreements” because vendors will negotiate to sell through different agents to ensure their property is on all three portals.

Not to be outdone, The Times on Saturday carried the anti-OTM sentiments of Sir Charles Dunstone, the Carphone Warehouse tycoon who has just invested £5m in an online agent that will be among those not allowed to list on OTM.

Dunstone, who has put the money into HouseSimple, told The Times that OTM is “doomed to fail”.

More bafflingly, he said the decision to include only office-based estate agents is “less about exclusion and more about appealing to the majority of the property owning or seeking public”.

The story quoted Zoopla’s head of communications Lawrence Hall: “We welcome competition when it is good for the market and good for consumers.

“However, the launch of this new regressive website, owned by about one in four agents such as Savills and Knight Frank, creates the biggest conflict of interest to exist between estate agents and their clients.”

Meanwhile HouseSimple itself yesterday put out a statement claiming that if more agents joined OnTheMarket, it would damage consumers.

Alex Gosling, CEO of the site, said: “OnTheMarket is the high street agents’ cynical, anti-competitive and desperate reaction to a market that is changing.

“Home-owners are fed up paying the exorbitant fees high street agents charge for a poor and inflexible service, and more and more are deserting traditional agents to sell their properties online.

“High street agents can feel the sand shifting beneath their feet. They are losing market share but, rather than listening to what home-owners want and changing with the times, they are choosing to fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are, in order to protect the disproportionately high fees they charge.

“It’s sad that the industry’s response, rather than giving consumers what they want – an improved service and lower fees – instead chooses to serve its own purpose.

“The general public will be the losers if more agents sign up to OnTheMarket.”

alex-chesterman

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21 Comments

  1. GPL

    Regressive? Your share price Mr Chesterman!…. very regressive!!! Lift going down Mr Chesterman.

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    1. harry hood

      that's nasty. what if someone said that about you?

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  2. PepeM

    So Sir Charles presumably very shortly you will be closing all your 100s of high street shops and making your 1000s of trained phone experts redundant ? After all you can easily pick up any old phone on the Internet and who needs one to one advice and guidence from knowledgable staff on the minefield of tariffs available, let alone what to do,when things, which they often do go wrong.

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    1. Robert May

      Sorry you lost me once you got to trained and knowledgable staff. Seriously you can not be talking about Carphone Warehouse. Normally people will go into shops and then buy off the internet cheaper, with Carphone Warehouse, research on the internet and get it cheaper in the shop. It is the only place I know where buying a Samsung Galaxy on a 2G carrier is considered a 4G contract. The G's in Samsung and Galaxy count as the other 2!

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  3. JungleProperty

    If OTM are able to enforce the one other portal rule its RIP Zoopla in the central Somerset area with possibly zero agents so Mr Chesterman can say what he wants about ex customers but Zoopla is looking pathetic as a marketing tool in our area at least. I think Z and RM could of redeemed themselves had they started responding to the cry for fair and transparent fees but seems like their heads are still firmly in the sand – Mr Chesterman it pays to listen to customers

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  4. TB

    According to the Office of National Statistic approximately 560,000 people work in estate agency in the UK and it seems to me that most of them spend a large amount of time glued to their mobile telephones. I do hope that now that Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk has launched a preemptive strike on estate agency by funding an internet only offering that estate agents respond by taking their business to alterative mobile phone providers. I am sure that with his £605.000.000 fortune this will not unduly worry him however I for one do not wish to financially support an individual who is doing his best to put me and my team out of business. I wonder how many of the 560,000 estate agents and their family members are Carphone Warehouse customers. I suspect enough to give them a little wobble.

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  5. RealAgent

    "Selling houses is not an art its a science, we add the science" Well for all you doubters about the need for OTM take heed, here direct from the horses mouth you have a portal boss coming out and saying what many of us thought they believed: We don't sell houses THEY do.

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    1. harry hood

      clearly it'll be Springett who'll be the single gatekeeper for all uk housing in a few years. you'd better play by the rules

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  6. Elbee

    I see PIE has renamed today as OTM Monday. Is nothing else happening in the property world today?

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    1. RealAgent

      Have you not been in the property market long? Why would you think that an event such as this would not dominate the news here and will do no doubt for some days to come. Nothing to do with bias, everything to do with probably the biggest industry event in over a decade! Wake up!

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      1. Elbee

        Realagent – I am fully awake and, in the same spirit would suggest you get real yourself. There is such a thing as overkill.

        Are you that sensitive a soul that you cannot cope with the slightest criticism of PIE or OTM?

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        1. RealAgent

          What has sensitivity got to do with anything?! Just look at how many posts and views each story has got! Seems the rest of the industry, those pro and those anti, don't seem to share your sentiment do they now?!

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  7. marcH

    So who really looks silly, Mr Chesterman ? Not so clever now with your company's share price around its ankles.

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    1. harry hood

      really comments like this are very nasty and reflect very badly on our profession. what would your customers say?

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      1. Taff

        "What would our customers say?? Judging by some of their Facebook statuses – a damn sight worse!

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  8. wilko

    “They look silly and disingenuous.”….This (and other things he says ) are crazy from a business point of view …….he should be attacking the the Rightmove increases and inviting those who dropped Z back. With press releases like this he's just distancing those withdrawn from Zoopla even more……So much for the end of your letter to me when I withdrew……"hope we can help you in the future"……..no chance – when you say things like this. I think, above all else the OTM excercise has, and will, continue to provide evidence that we don't need both the main portals. If Zoopla want to have half a chance of succeeding then they need to attack Rightmove and entice agents back over the next 5 years and not be rude and dismissive of those that are trying something new.

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    1. andy10000

      whats new about OTM?? RM were set up by estate agents in exactly the same way!!!!!

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  9. marcH

    What is harry hood on about ? AC has a pop at some of us and we're supposed to like it ? Not seen him on here before. Needs to get up to speed with the issues. Or is he one of AC's chums ?

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  10. Woodentop

    My motto is never trust a kid who doesn't bother to wear a tie. Its clear to all why Zoopla are failing with his comments and past performance. A business is like a fish, it rots from the head down when out of water.

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  11. agentx

    Never heard of this cheeseman fellow or the newspaper that prints this tosh. Does anybody still buy a newspaper?

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  12. andy10000

    agents just want to stick their heads in the sand not let the buyer have any information and they believe that this is the good for the buying process…… fools, transparency makes markets efficient…… builds confidence, estate agents that don't like it will be seen as trying to hide information in the hope it doesn't get noticed …. which they are!!!! just reinforcing the estate agent stereotype I'm afraid

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