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.”