Brokerage

Brokers gearing up to do battle with big listing portals

OnTheMarket.com launches next week to take on Rightmove and Zoopla

What happens when real estate brokers get fed up with big national search portals? They go out and start their own — at least in the United Kingdom, where big-name estate agencies are gearing up to launch OnTheMarket.com on Jan. 26 to go head to head with Rightmove and Zoopla.

While competition is usually good for consumers, in this case, there could be negative repercussions: To join OnTheMarket.com, brokers have to agree to cut off the flow of listings to either Rightmove or Zoopla, meaning both sites will have gaps in their coverage if OnTheMarket.com takes off.

OnTheMarket.com will be run by a nonprofit, Agents’ Mutual, formed by brokerages including Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker, and the London firms Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates, The Guardian reports. More than 4,000 agents have signed up and more are being recruited to use the website, which offers the option of fixing monthly fees for listing properties for five years, the paper says.

The Guardian reports that several new players are hoping to shake things up in online real estate in 2015, including online estate agencies easyproperty.com and Purplebricks.com, and portals Houser.co.uk and Lookingforahouse.co.uk.

Overseas listing portals work a little differently than U.S. listing portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, which publish information on listings at no charge. U.S. portals generate revenue by charging for ads that generate “leads” for agents or listing “enhancements” like additional photos, broker-agent branding and preferential placement in search results.

In the U.S., executives with leading multiple listing services, franchisors and brokers have been working for months on a plan to launch a new national listing portal to serve as a broker-centric alternative to the big search portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com.

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