This is why we MUST back OnTheMarket as it gets close to stock market float

The planned flotation of OnTheMarket is to be welcomed and will give the portal a much-needed boost in investment to strengthen its position against the other main portals.

Subject to member agencies voting in favour of the flotation, OnTheMarket will be able to use this cash injection to boost its brand presence, providing a strong alternative to its rivals.

More importantly, it will allow us estate agents to take back control of our marketing spend and avoid being crippled by rising costs.

If you want to be on the two main portals, you’ll need to shell out an estimated £30k-£40k a year per branch in the future according to their City briefings on their income growth – more than the rent of most offices. If there’s a guaranteed way to kill off the high street and force agents solely online, this is it. What’s that going to do for customer service?

It’s all very well pointing to viewing figures and leads, and suggesting we leave the main portals at our own peril. But if they keep squeezing us, there won’t be any estate agents left – we’ll all be extinct!

Until now, everyone has been afraid to jump ship – even though OnTheMarket is a much better value option. Yet if everyone was prepared to take the plunge, the dominant portals would no longer have any stranglehold over us.

Perhaps that’s their ultimate aim? Keep raising the fees – after all, they only keep going one way and that’s upwards. Or is their intention to take what they can from estate agents, then switch to listing properties from the public instead or as well? As one well known portal in the USA already has. Funnily enough that begins with a ‘Z’ too.

Many have referred to the portals as parasites, living off our properties to generate incredible profits for their investors. Now that OnTheMarket has emerged victorious from its competition row, isn’t it time to switch allegiance and make this portal more dominant instead?

Where’s all the talent?

There’s a noticeable dearth of well-trained valuers/listers who have become like gold dust, making them a highly expensive commodity. I used to be one! In many cases, they can now earn more than their own branch managers!

The question is, where have they all gone? Surely not to the internet hybrid agents. In many cases, internet agents are no more than ‘fake agents’, with no local knowledge whatsoever of the areas where they operate.

If the internet agents are able to pay silly money to their staff, I can’t fathom out how they will ever become profitable? Surely this business model is unsustainable and we’ll see their fees starting to rise as their models fail?

I’m convinced the public will start to wise up to the fact that internet agents don’t lift a finger to get a deal through because they are paid up-front. In fact, if you have one of their sales in your pipeline there’s every likelihood they will be holding up the chain from exchanging.

This lack of talent is of great concern, so much so that we’re establishing a new training programme to encourage gifted people into the industry. Holding on to good staff by offering excellent career progression and rewards is surely something very few internet agents are able to offer.

Don’t let ‘downsizing’ be a dirty word

It’s time to have an honest conversation with people at the top of the housing ladder about the insufficient supply of suitable family homes in the housing market and to highlight to them that ‘downsizing’ is not a dirty word.

There are many people in properties that are far too large for them, with empty nesters rattling around in what was once a family home bustling with children.

It’s understandable that they want to keep their money in what is probably their best possible investment in the current climate, or they want to retain their fond family memories or can’t find the right property to downsize to. In fact, in a recent survey that we conducted, almost a third said they would move to a smaller property but the stamp duty was too high.

Until we tackle this issue at this end of the market, especially with an ageing population, what hope do the first-time buyers ever have of getting on and moving up the housing ladder?

We simply don’t have enough stock to meet demand and we need to release more family homes for second-steppers, otherwise first-time buyers will continue to be priced out.

Meanwhile, first-time buyers continue to be caught in the rent trap, unable to get a deposit together. It’s time the Government gave them some benefits, like removing stamp duty.

Instead of an Englishman’s home being his (or her) castle, surely it’s time for people to see downsizing as an honourable act, releasing a property for another family to enjoy until their own families fly the nest and the cycle begins again.

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74 Comments

  1. harry hood

    The biggest story ever and Eye don’t run a story? No, they hand it over for an advertorial.

     

    Further, it’s a terribly desperate rant that begins talking about portals and ends up talking about downsizing. Come on…this is the pits.

     

    Let’s be clear – we don’t have to do anything this chap tells us. Look at the mess already caused. Full of unsubstantiated figures – Project Fear all over again. Don’t you think you can tell me what to do.

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  2. smile please

    If OTM is floated it has share holders. If they have to have share holders they need to show increased profits year after year. How will they do that? Increase fees!

    It’s Rightmove all over again.

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    1. smile please

      7 Dislikes already on a factually correct comment.

       

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      1. Woodentop

        This has to be the number one question. Why would someone want to invest in the business for no return. How are AM going to raise money to pay investors a return ….. fee’s go up.

         

        Are they going to do a RightMove fee in crease, are they going to allow advertising …. this would not require floatation as ALL the money would go into cover overheads.

         

        PB has proven you cannot spend money on advertising long term and get a return for investors, they have lost £m’s.

         

        RM & Z have proved that they spend as little as possible. They use the agents daily High Street marketing to keep them going.

         

        I see no value in floatation to member agents unless you want a share price value to cash in later, if it has risen and a sudden tranche of investment income which will run out. Then what will they do?

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  3. The Outsider

    This advert was brought to you in association with someone who has invested a lot of money in a sinking ship.

     

    How are the predictions you made about the size and growth of OTM going Paul?:

    http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/spicerhaart-announces-will-dropping-zoopla/

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    1. waco79

      How did you get dislikes for that. I suspect Haart employees and shareholders of the non-mutual, one portal only, no online agency, low cost stick to your principles OTM.

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  4. IndAgent

    Surely a bunch of new window stickers doesn’t cost £50 million?!

    I own an independent firm and have not been contacted by OTM in the last two years to see if we want to join them!

    Not the right people for the job in my opinion.

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    1. Woodentop

      I think it is becoming clear that Spingett is no longer the man for the job.

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  5. Neutral

    Very biased article… Also, not that Rightmove is cheap, but current average prices per branch are £10k per year and they are not trebling any time soon like the writer suggests… while Zoopla is half that price (and about the same as OTM)…

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  6. NewsBoy

    I suspect that most of the comments so far have come from shareholders of you know who????  For once lets follow the USA.  They own and run their own portal  realtor.com.   They have managed to keep their costs very sensible and have avoided any sign of wrongmove or hoopla. This is your chance now to take this baton and run. By all means write soppy comments as above but there are enough sensible agents out there to make this work.  Yes –  there will be shareholders wanting profits but this site will still be run for and by estate agents.  Come on boys and girls. You don’t get anything for nothing but this is a gift horse waiting to ride off into the sunset of Wrongmove and hoopla. The time is right to tackle this for once and for all.

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    1. PeterS52

      Realtor.com is owend by News Corp – so your post is nonsense.

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      1. NewsBoy

        But run and managed by realtors!

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  7. AgentV

    OnTheMarket needs more properties listed. More properties listed means more internet traffic. More internet traffic means more leads for members. More leads for members means more agents will join. More agents joining means more income and more properties listed.

    More agents, more properties listed, more traffic and more income means a lot less need to do this!!!

    Surely it would be better to get together all the best ideas from the industry, and the right people to follow them through first.

     

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    1. Bless You

      Your going to have to scratch your own itch AgentV.  You are correct , but deep down agents will always do each over due to how we all work.. .   now i can see what otm real purpose was i am humbled by my amazing skills to smell a rat…and so i left after 6 months.  Still lost money though cos i had to go on rightmove as all the other agents in the area ditched zoopla.

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  8. GilesH

    PAUL SMITH IS ONE OF THE LARGEST SHAREHOLDERS IN AGENTS MUTUAL. NOT ALL HOLDERS ARE EQUAL IN THIS IPO – MAKE SURE YOU EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THIS.

    OF COURSE HE WANTS YOU TO BACK IT.

    TOTALLY DISINGENUOUS ADVERT/ARTICLE. AGENTS RIPPING OFF AGENTS

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    1. Bless You

      My local golf club is a members club …yeah.. Donald trump owns them and makes all the money and decisions..but they are members…

       

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      1. Industry_Pro

        Apologies “Bless You”,

        I use the word ‘member’ in place of ‘shareholder’

        Your golfing buddies are only members of a club owned by someone else, just as I am a Prime Member of Amazon.

        However OTM agents are members and defacto owners of the ‘club OTM’. A significant difference.

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  9. Curious george

    ‘I’m convinced the public will start to wise up to the fact that internet agents don’t lift a finger to get a deal through because they are paid up-front. ‘

     

    Here are the simple facts.firstly a buyer will buy from anyone, irrespective of who is selling it! As long as they can find out about it, then they will buy it.

    a sell or however is different. It’s not that they are getting wiser, it’s more that they are armed with information now at their fingertips.

    vendors have review sites and forums just a  clicks away from them and it’s how firms engage with them will be the deciding factor.

    I remember it was not long ago when agents would be putting Rightmove stickers in their window when it first came out. It was a fantastic tool , however everyone is on it now! Great for selling , but completely useless now for generating vendor leads .

    now its review sites like trust pilot and allagents stickers that I see

     

     

     

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  10. danny

    “On the markets largest customer supports scheme to change to reward its largest customers shocker “….read all about it

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  11. LandlordsandLetting

    We are not an estate agents but sell various landlord insurances.  I certainly have some sympathy with agents because Rightmove and associated portals have already cornered the market and I believe their listing prices reflect that. If unstopped they will just go on to wipe out all competition – and real competition will benefit everyone – apart from Rightmove of course.However, the main reason Rightmove is so powerful is that it is an incredible website and obviously has brilliant developers working on it. One vital detail I noticed with On The Market is that they have no ‘LOCATION’ map on the property’s page or at least I couldn’t find it – which on the net is the same thing!  Obviously this is an absolutely vital feature in selling any property.

    I wish On The Market well but before they start worrying about flotations and marketing etc they need to bring their website up to the extremely high technical standard of Rightmove.

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    1. PeeBee

      PSSSSSTT… sorry my response is posted too late for you to change yours – and this may make you look a teensy weensy tad numptyish – but where you say

      “One vital detail I noticed with On The Market is that they have no ‘LOCATION’ map on the property’s page or at least I couldn’t find it – which on the net is the same thing!  Obviously this is an absolutely vital feature in selling any property.”

      should have been a comment consigned to the cutting room floor, so as to speak.

      You see, I think they already kinda figured that some people might need to be pointed in the direction of a property that they may be interested in… so they stuck this handy thing on every page which does exactly that.  They just called it ‘MAP’ – which may be the cause of your inability to find it, if looking for it under the letter ‘L’ – but maybe “Location” wasn’t deemed necessary – or maybe it would have cost another squillion quid to add it – I don’t know.  Either way – as far as I’m aware you are the only person on the planet (who uses OTM, that is…) that so far hasn’t found the facility or said they couldn’t.

      Sincerely hope that my little nudge in the right direction solves your predicament – however, if by some strange reason, what you refer to as a “location map”  and what I have suggested be ‘the very fellow’ (credit: Billy Connolly) is actually a different thing entirely, then please point us in the direction of your requirement as per what you term the “brilliant developers” on the “incredible website” Rightmove have on their pages that so clearly float your tanker and I’m sure that those nice-but-not-so-brilliant developers at OTM will give it an amateurish go for you.

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  12. AgencyInsider

     I certainly have some sympathy with agents fearing that Rightmove and associated portals are beginning to corner the market and if they do they will eventually raise their prices.

    You are about ten years behind the game with that sentence LandlordandLetting.

     

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    1. LandlordsandLetting

      Thanks – I have updated my comment, AgencyInsider – obviously things are worse than I thought!

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  13. PeterS52

    The first half of this artcle is the most self-interested and ignorant piece I have ever read on here. I didn’t bother reading the second half. I wonder why Paul Smith of SpicerHaart thinks ‘The planned flotation of OnTheMarket is to be welcomed’ – perhaps because he has sunk more into it than anyone else and stands to gain more shares than anyone else??? Mr Smith goes onto to say that the cash is all it needs to ‘provide a strong alternative to its rivals’ – he thinks that if you just throw more marketing money at it it will be fine. Wrong as has already be seen. He then says that each branch could spend £30k per year on portals and be forced out of business by the main portals. First, I was spendiong £25k per year on print 15 years ago and now I am only spending half that on portals so they have been a saving. Second, if they put the prices up so much that I went out of business that would be suicide for them. And third, he wants me to invest in a third portal so my fees go up from where they are now just to line his pockets! His most staggering claim is that ‘OnTheMarket is a much better value option’ – it is not and anyone who has used it or has seen the figures know actually it is a much worse value option. Finally, he claims ‘OnTheMarket has emerged victorious from its competition row’ – why was so much time and money wasted if he planned to drop the rule anyway??

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  14. revilo

    ‘There’s a noticeable dearth of well-trained valuers/listers who have become like gold dust, making them a highly expensive commodity.’

    ‘This lack of talent is of great concern, so much so that we’re establishing a new training programme to encourage gifted people into the industry. Holding on to good staff by offering excellent career progression’

    Is this the same Paul Smith, who, when he employed one of the most successful valuers / listers in the county, tried to force the person out because they were considered ‘too expensive’??

    Will we take any notice of his views – I don’t think so….

    Seriously laughing!

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  15. smile please

    For Mr Sprignett or any other bona fide OTM individual that want to answer the below.

    1. If floated what do you expect the average monthly fee to be for the first 5 years.

    2. Once floated will you introduce “Enhanced marketing packages”

    3. Once floated will online agents be able to list

    4. What is the timescale for a back office system

    5. How much money over the last 12 months has been spent on exploring this opportunity,

    6. If you do not float, what is the plan

    7. How can you have external shareholders and still be working for the agents that market with OTM?

    8. How can we now trust the managing board

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    1. PeterS52

      And…

      9. Will you offer all agents £50 per month rate that you have offered some agents? Based on # of leads delivered to date that is still not good value compared to others but perhpas something some will take a punt on.

      10. If you believe in the performance why does anyone need to sign a 5 year contract for you to hold them to? Surely they will be happy to stay with a gun to their head if you deliver?

      11. How will spending £30m on marketing in the first year change anything. It is still a weak model and this money won’t change anything other than boost your stats and make you feel better for a year.

      12. You have been reluctant to communicate performance over the past few years for obvious reaosns. How will you cope as a public company having to expose everything, warts and all? And deal with analysts and journalists who matter in the public arena and have already come out overwhelmingly negative on your plans?

      13. How do you justify the lie at the start that we were all in it together when now the shares are being issued based on what has been spent so far? Savills and Spicers will get 100x more shares than others who were supposed to be equal.

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    2. RentBoy

      I do wonder if there will be a share option for the management.

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  16. davidandrew52

    Paul Smith is simply the most transparent man alive. Join OTM! (I’m going to make an absolute fortune from my share option)

     

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  17. Typhoon

    Paul has got the essence of what he is saying spot on. We as an industry will be in the poo,if there is no alternative to RM and Zoopla. The industry is blind to this it seems. RM and Zoopla are both already hosting private sellers by allowing the on-lone agents onto their platforms. Those on-line agents take the listing money and leave the customers to do their own thing. So their customers are paying to have access to list their properties on RM and Zoopla. Fact.

     

    So I endorse Paul’s call to action. If OTM fail, the industry is in for a rough ride.

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    1. smile please

      But if OTM has shareholders it IS RM or Z – They have no other option.

      Apart from the gift of a few thousand quid in shares there is no benefit (this gift will be clawed back over time).

      Am i missing something? – Why do you think it is a good idea? – Genuine question.

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      1. Typhoon

        Because the other two need a strong competitor. RM profits are nothing short of obscene.And with the 1 other portal rule relaxed, customers are free to pick and choose. This will for certain have a throttling back effect on RM and Zoopla’s relentless forward march to hike up their costs to the industry at large. RM could halve their charges and still make obscene profits.

        And one would hope that OTM would only allow “proper” estate agents into their platform. I cannot imagine one high street agent in the country who would vote in favour of them allowing on-liners on

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        1. PeterS52

          OTM are going to allow online agents on – I bet. But they won’t say so until after the vote. Kinda like Brexit – vote with only some of the facts and we’ll tell you the detail once it is too late. If the OOPR was not a constraint on the other 2 portals then why would dropping that rule help constrain them?

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        2. smile please

          Sorry Typhoon i am totally lost with your thoughts.

           

          Agents will no longer own OTM if floated, the shareholders will. As such the board of OTM will need to match RM on returns so the only way to do that is increase listing fees.

          In my opinion they will be even worse than RM as they need to attract investment as so far behind RM, there will be numerous 3rd party advertisers taking your business.

          Its not about raising money for agents to compete, floating means the board want to get rich quick. that will be at the expense of agents.

           

           

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          1. Industry_Pro

            Current member agents will continue to own OTM but as shareholders. However they will only be part owners; circa 75%-80% of the company if it achieves a market valuation of £200m/£250m respectively.

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            1. smile please

              Yes they will still have a shareholding but there will also be external investors.

              The only way to keep the external shareholders happy is yearly increase on profits …. How will they do that ….. By increasing subscription fees or allowing third parties to purchase leads. – ALL the things we hate about Rightmove and Zoopla!

              If you were launching OTM today not 2.5 years ago this would not have even got a single office to buy in. Today agents are fed up and want their money back through the issuing of shares, However they will create a monster in agreeing to this.

              This is the craziest ide i have ever heard, but i have no doubt it will be done because of the poor business acumen by most agents.

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  18. AgencyInsider

    I feel like I have entered a time-warp.

    Vitriol, bile, spleen-venting, shouting, division, loathing, madness and the odd sensible comment.

    Is it 2015 again, when OTM launched?

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  19. J1

    This is a very bizarre piece

    so many topics, too much emotion, too much vitriol

    must not have had much sleep over the weekend perhaps

    some reasonable points but some nonsense too

    not what we expect from Eye at the start of the week

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  20. SJEA

    I joined OTM at the start as a Gold Member based on the following 3 main principles:

    1. One Vote per company

    2. Votes would be cast on major decisions

    3. Purpose was to ensure fees remained low.

    Now, I feel completely deflated. The above were MY reasons for joining and I committed to a 5 year contract as I thought it would take this long to get somewhere close to where we needed to be. The above is clearly NOT the avenue that the board wish to go down any longer. My concerns, already aired by many are:

    1. My shareholding in this company will be tiny in comparison to the major shareholders with multiple branches who will vote in future decisions to suit their own agenda.

    2. I am sure that a great deal of time and money have been invested in investigating this course of action. Not discussed firstly with the members of Agents Mutual.

    3. Shareholder will drive up fees in their pursuit of profit.

    4. Dropping the one portal rule is acceptable to me IF this is a major factor in the larger agents joining OTM – more agents, more properties, more leads driven to OTM.

    5. Will the online only agents be able to list ? This is a major concern to all of the members of OTM.

    6. Will some agents vote FOR this to happen for short term share gain ? The value of these shares would quickly be wiped out by ever increasing fees.

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    1. smile please

      Bang on.

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  21. Woodentop

    PS, keep taking the tablets you lost the plot on this one.

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  22. Robert May

    I have been quite staggered by the costs associated with an IPO, it seems 14% is the going rate. For 14% of the £200m market cap that was being discussed last week all you get is a fancy thick document no-one reads but that protects the investors from themselves.

    Call me Mr Tightwad but  spending £28 million for a prospectus in order to drop the one other portal rule and allow Russell Quirk to advertise  seems a bit expensive considering it wouldn’t cost anything more than a meeting to drop the OOPR and the cash Russel blags off other people spends like everyone else’s subscription

    It’s only a suggestion but how about using the second half of the 5 years to show OTM can be made to compete with Rightmove and Zoopla by attracting the agents who up till now haven’t been welcomed and taking off the artificial restriction placed upon members. See what happens in  the next 2 years and if all is good, float at the end of the 5 year project (contract) everyone signed up to.

    The internet listers have demonstrated that investors’ cash doesn’t guarantee success, none of them have made any noticeable advances or achievement despite having unrestricted cash thrown at them.  Perhaps floatation isn’t really the solution for projects that want to grow.

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    1. AgentV

      I agree……and what about if in those next two years OTM take on board and develop some of the ground breaking new ideas, that you and we both know exist, from the independent and associated community!!!

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  23. Woodentop

    I posted the other day that as a mutual AM need to understand

     

    Oh dear … AM what a load of clowns you are. Your are demented to think that many agents will either understand or want to understand what you are doing. This is not the way forward to win heart and souls, it not the way to promote OTM to the public who won’t give a stuff about your share price. All that agents want is an outlet for the public to use. If you are saying OTM cannot survive without listing on the stock market …… you are a dead duck. You do not understand, BIG TIME, independent estate agents.

     

    Going by todays and previous posts there are many deflated member agents. There is nothing wrong with OTM, a web portal which does not cost much to run. It is the media advertising thats a crippler, as PB have shown one and all.

     

    I predict that the vote will be a resounding NO and Springett will have to go.

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    1. smile please

      I predict the vote will be a resounding Yes.

      Agents have shown time and again they are greedy and think about the here and now not down the line.

      So many have been lost money over the last couple of years, they will see it as a chance to cash in.

      I bet this was Ian’s plan all along. He has played a blinder. Jokes on us.

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      1. AgentV

        What about if all the agent members eligible to vote called an extraordinary general meeting now……where the true voices of the independents can be heard, rather than the propaganda likely to be generated from the sleek marketing machines brought in for the road shows?

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        1. Marketshare

          Agent V,  I completely agree with your view, this is going to be pushed hard by the board but the response by us the members will be fragmented at best.

          Perhaps it may be time to get ourselves organised geographically and put forward a more uniformed response?

          Can I suggest that we all swap contact info at the meetings so we can continue to discuss and meet after the event itself?

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          1. AgentV

            Can I suggest that we all swap contact info at the meetings so we can continue to discuss and meet after the event itself?

            What a great idea…..perhaps there could be a couple of  volunteers at each roadshow that everyone can give their details to.

            They could be ‘highly visible’ by wearing an orange shirt……orange no not ‘easy’ colours…purple, they could wear purple…oh stupid me! Joking aside, I think this is a really good idea.

            Feels like everything that is good in this world, eventually gets ruined by greed!!!

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  24. ianc

    As I recall, at the very first meetings, and when our company agreed to become a gold member, we were absolutely assured that this would NEVER happen.

    Agents Mutual was always to be just that, a mutual, owned by agents for agents. We were also assured, that there would be no add ons, no adverts, nothing but our properties. Investors want to see returns, and unless our fees keep going up, as per RM, or OTM allows advertising by third parties, they ain’t going to get those returns.

    However, we have a vote and can and should get the board to listen to us. +£20 million of our money being spent on an IPO is nothing short of a joke.

    The upcoming “roadshow” will be interesting to attend.

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    1. AgentV

      Can you not call an EGM before the roadshows?

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  25. Quags

    Extremely glad we didn’t join, just been farcical.

    Attended two different presentations and then later a rep visited our office trying to push it.

    Rude, little experience or understanding of estate agency and when left she said “well I thought this was going to be an easy sign up” after we had said no.

     

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  26. s71

    Dear All,

    I have read the article and all the posted comments, what i fail to understand is that no one has put a genuine comment on why OTM has failed!!!!,  they all go on about shares, listing, cost of rightmove, and zoopla, Paul’s past and future comments which is actually hilarious to read 

    THE MAIN REASON OTM FAILED WAS THAT BUYERS+TENANTS WERE NOT LOOKING AT OTM FOR VIEWING PROPERTIES AS THEY DID NOT KNOW OF ITS EXISTENCE OR THEY COULD NOT BE BOTHERED AS THEY WERE VERY COMFORTABLE TO USE EITHER RIGHTMOVE OR ZOOPLA. (for buyers and tenants OTM does not exist!!!!)

    OTM IS A COMPANY COLLECTING FEES FROM ALL SIGNED UP AGENTS BUT NOT SPENDING ANY ON MARKETING, WHERE THE MONEY GOES I DON’T KNOW

    THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO KNOW OTM ARE FELLOW AGENTS AND THEY ARE THE ONES LOOKING AT OTM TO SEE ALL NEW LISTINGS OF THEIR COMPETITORS AS OTM HAS A RULE THAT A PROPERTY NEEDS TO GO LIVE WITH OTM FIRST BEFORE THE SECOND PORTAL.

    PEOPLE WANTS TO CASH IN ON THE MASSIVE INVESTMENT ON OTM,

     

     

     

     

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  27. Marketshare

    As a gold member with loan note outstanding and a network of offices, there may be a financial reason for me to consider the proposed float.  As an estate agent looking towards the future this is quite simply a bare faced betrayal of the core values that OTM represented when we all joined.

    The board need to remember (it wasn’t that long ago!) the mantra that they delivered and repeated and that we all agreed with.  An agent owned portal, control of our own data and a serious contender against the duopoly which would result in lower costs.

    The current proposal is a company owned by shareholders, no control of data and a primary goal to maximise profits at our expense.  I also don’t see how they can stop ‘listing agents’ from joining.

    The road has been rocky, to say the least, but after the court case, there was momentum once again for the first time in a long time.  We need more agents, the board needs to work smarter with its existing network to bring new agents on-board.  Agents will gladly help and they won’t charge for their time.  Without more stock there is no point spending a fortune to promote to the general public, they will look at it once, realise there is more choice on Zoopla (for most regions) and then stop.

    I WILL BE VOTING AGAINST and I urge all other members to do the same.

    If the idea is defeated then the board will need to either confirm their allegiance to a sustained mutuality or resign.

    Is it just me who has noticed that the board voted ‘themselves’ an additional term just before this huge ‘U Turn’ was announced?

    I guess this isn’t the first or won’t be the last case where cash has got in the way of principals.  What the board need to remember is that this isn’t their business, it is ours and we have a voice.  let’s make sure we use it.

     

     

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    1. Woodentop

      What the board need to remember is that this isn’t their business, it is ours and we have a voice.  let’s make sure we use it.

       

      Exactly. This is why so many insurance companies and later building societies got on the bandwagon in the 1990’s and none are now left.

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    2. PeterS52

      I didn’t join OTM as never thought it would work. But one of my best friends did and left Zoopla to do so. I have spent the last 2 years teasing him about how OTM is unknown whilst he has spent that same period defencing them. Finally today, he has agreed that he made a terrible choice and will not be supprting it any further. He also claims to have spoken to numerous other Gold members who will vote ‘no’. If agents want to spend fees and get them back in share price gains they can of course always buy shares in either Rightmove or ZPG. The board of OTM have never treated this project as anyhting other than their own and ignored all other members unless they needed them. They have spent money on things like Country Life advertising, overseas listings and Ian Springetts salary – all things that benefit the few and iognore the many. This latest plan is more of exactyl that – BENEFIT THE FEW AT EXPENSE OF THE MANY.

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      1. AgentV

        If Its one member one vote, why don’t members get together and put forward an alternative plan to be run by representatives elected by the agents?

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  28. JuanEye93

    I suggested before and will repeat now the following alternative to the current proposition:

    1. AM/OTM sells to ZPG. Those Estate Agents that invested in AM/OTM get ZPG shares which they can either hold or sell.

    2. ZPG gets the traffic back and also a better platform than their current dated technology. They can then take on Rightmove without having to look over their shoulder at AM/OTM

    3. Estate Agents get shares, i.e. part ownership, in an established business with an impressive track record of management as well as financial growth or they get their money back. Perhaps in return for holding the shares they get a 2-3 year price freeze.

    To float AM/OTM will cost many millions but even if £20million+ as reported above, this is a drop in the ocean compared to what it will cost to win over the consumer from Rightmove and ZPG. It’s not enough to match Rightmove/ZPG spending – they have 10 years or more of consumer awareness, downloaded apps on phones, etc. not to mention the resources to counter with a campaign that could dwarf anything AM/OTM can finance, even after a float.

    Only those with a vested interest, i.e. IS, Paul Smith and the other major shareholders, will win – the small agent will end up paying for three portals rather than two with no additional leads/benefits.

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  29. BigBoyEA48

    I can’t help but agree with most of the comments above, specifically…

    1) This article is written by somebody who has suddenly been offered a get out of jail free card in terms of retrieving funds that had probably been written off as lost in a black hole and;

    2) Portals, like many other aspects of our industry need to be shaken up and changed – OTM had all of the markings of being able to do this.

    When speaking with my RM Account Manager last week he told us verbally and in writing that their current goal is to have all clients old and new on a £1,000 per month minimum spend, a complete monopoly if I ever saw one.  We had a perfectly good opportunity in OTM to create that third viable option and to take some of the cockiness away from RM and ZPG that enables these minimum spends.

    Having only used OTM for a few months before quickly realising it wasn’t working for us my experience is somewhat limited, however my feelings are the management, the 2 portal rule and lack of any form of service once signed up all contributed to the decline in our most promising portal!

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  30. Industry_Pro

    OTM – what a missed opportunity…..it is clear that the readers of this forum believe that to be the case.

    Why has it failed to gain & retain market traction?

    Quite simply, OTM does not have a [house buying] customer USP. Why should those customers bother to go to the site when RM/Zoopla will more than adequately cater for their house buying needs.

    Most of the house buying public have either not heard of OTM or have quickly forgotten it.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure that throwing £50m at it will permanently change the public’s non perception or low level of awareness. Remember, the buying public generally only use [sales side] property portals when they are actively buying – once every 7-10 years.

    An investment by existing ‘shareholders’/members of £25m – £50m would be better spent on the day to day running of the site and developing it to a level where it can compete head on with RM & Zoopla technically speaking. In addition also introduce a home buyer incentive/USP – all this whilst allowing and encouraging all agency firms to list for free for a period of 12-18 months. Under those conditions why wouldn’t every agency firm/office list with OTM?

    The marketing and promotion of the site should in the main be undertaken by each and every OTM member at a local level.

    Once critical mass and traction akin to the levels of the sector leaders has been achieved then is the time to re-introduce modest, not for profit listing fees.

    Aside from that, once OTM becomes a public company it is vulnerable to a take over by a competitor [no prizes for guessing who] and the major shareholders will probably profit or at least re-coup their original investment.

    OTM members should seriously consider taking control of the company they own and quickly install a management team that truly represents the business aims of the current membership. 

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    1. AgentV

      Quite simply, OTM does not have a [house buying] customer USP.

      But it could have if it were open to listening to new ideas out here in the agent community. There is one idea that I know about that would be a cracker for OTM….if they were just willing to talk.

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      1. Industry_Pro

        Nearly always you have to crack eggs to make an omelette…! Members need to impose their will and their wishes on the board in the interests of the original project. Or get a board that will listen. Simples.

        The member agents own OTM, they each have a vote and a voice – I suggest they are both used and quickly so.

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  31. KByfield04

    Not only is this a bizarre piece starting on portals and ending on downsizing (eh- where did THAT come from)- but do the powers that be at OTM honestly think we are stupid enough to fall for this guff? When this genuinely was a mutual it had SOME credit/value. The second it floats it becomes answerable only to investors- are they arent investing to ’empower’ us agents and save us money. Hell no! They will be angling to achieve the same as the other portals- sizeable profiability and huge valuations. Make no mistake, if this goes ahead it simply creates a 3rd portal to pay fees to, which very soon will be akin to Z&RM, and all it will do is syphon off leads that would have come through them at no extra cost had a 3rd incumbent not existed. Praying that agents dont fall for this. Wow- this has to be one of the most ‘busy’ and demanding marketplaces for agents ever!

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    1. Industry_Pro

      If the membership allows OTM to float it will not survive very long as a public company. It will become the subject of a takeover bid by one of the big two, the share price will rise as a result and new investors and to a degree current members will recoup their original investment.

      Quite simply – this is an exit strategy, in my opinion.

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      1. AgentV

        OTM needs to talk to the agents and associated people in the independent community that have the ideas to really take it forwards and develop far more ‘awareness’ from the public. I know of at least one idea and ideas from other independents that could be real game changers for OTM!

        If anyone else has ideas to help then contact us at the ideas network on in@agentv.co.uk

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      2. smile please

        “Quite simply – this is an exit strategy, in my opinion.”

         

        I think you have hit the nail on the head.

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  32. Wassup04

    Pure OTM advertising drivel.

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  33. Pragmatic06

    The Prospectus.

    Sign up for a further 5 years.  Annual subscription increases? Appendix 1 states no increases for 2 years then, bingo, up to 5% per annum, compounded.

    Receive shares (not listed on the full exchange but listed on the AIM market). I read it that these shares can’t be sold anytime soon due to the share “lock-in” so if OTM goes, the “shareholders” go with it?

    OTM has disappointed from inception so why would anyone in their right mind “invest” further? I notice that Rightmove has a market cap of circa 4 billion, they will be a tough nut to crack and I forsee future OTM rights issues, placings etc (in short, dilution) just to stem a very strong tide.

    An interesting question is that the new subscription say, for a small firm in the provinces, will be £295 (the same charge at inception). Are the firms currently paying £50 going to have their subscription increased to £295? (Answers on a postage stamp please).

    Really you couldn’t make this up!

    All in my very humble opinion and please do your own research.

    Discuss.

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    1. PeterS52

      The shares to be issued can’t be sold for 5 years (lockup period) so are effectively worthless since OTM has practically zero chance of surviving 5 years. Ian Springett, his board of cronies and bad business plan will be laughed at on the public markets. Think of taking these shares and signing a new 5 year agreement as investing your own money and tieing it up for 5 years as that is what your’e being asked to do. What criteria do you think about when investing – good track record? strong team? transparent business? good value for customers? strong market share? winning business plan…any of these true here? If you are going to take a punt on investing in portal shares, why wouldn’t you just buy shares in either/both of Rightmove and ZPG and hold onto them for 5 years where at least all the elements of a good investment are true. I am not sure if this whole thing is a joke and Springett is going to jump out of a cake at these meetings saying ‘only kidding’ or if he and his board are genuinely so deluded they think that the rest of the industry can so easily be taken for fools…?

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  34. Rivero

    WHAT

    A

    CLOWN

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  35. Rivero

    …and well trained, talented valuers aren’t knocking on SpicerHaart’s door…how puzzling.

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  36. wardy

    Tomorrows headline:

    Board at OTM simultaneously face palm themselves as Smith open his gob again.

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  37. Spargs35

    What a joke. Who cares what one guy thinks (who has a vested interest), and why the hell have PIE put this nonsense as their first article?? It’s poorly written, completely subjective and glosses all of the major issue, like OTM members have been taken for a ride. But let’s ignore that, and pretend this is a great idea. Very poor “journalism” PIE.

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  38. Nick Salmon, M.D. Property Industry Eye

    I have deliberately left it to the end of the day to post this as we do not like to interfere with or influence a comment thread. As is often the case when OTM appears in some form on these pages a number of people get hold of the wrong end of the stick…

    There are some comments in this thread criticising EYE for running this piece and in some cases accusing us of poor journalism.

    The observant among you may have spotted that in the sub head of the headline, where it appears on the homepage, it says: Opinion: New business plan will help agents – and stop the other portals squeezing us

    Regular readers will know that Paul Smith is a contributor, not an EYE journalist, and what he writes is his opinion. Readers are of course welcome to agree or disagree with those opinions.

    As for running it as the top piece today, no apologies.

     

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  39. JAM01

    It is rumoured that once floated, virtual agents will be able to list with On The Market. If so, does that not go against the original aim and when did they therefore cease to become ‘parasites’?

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