Agents' Mutual is coming. It's like the Coca Cola adverts at Christmas. It's almost inevitable. You can taste it. Feel it. You get the picture.
Or do you? There are naysayers. But really quickly: 4,000+ estate agency branches are now members of Agents' Mutual and will be removing their advertising spend from either Rightmove or Zoopla come January. That will equate to almost £20m of annualised revenue disappearing. And it'll likely be Zoopla that is most affected.
Unless, Zoopla does something.... Smart.
A little background: Zoopla hoovered up all the failing property portals, in the face of Rightmove's ever-increasing dominance of UK online property classifieds. This M&A activity resulted in Zoopla being the de-facto number 2 in the market.
During this process, the online 'audience' from brands like PropertyFinder, Globrix and FindAProperty were redirected to Zoopla.co.uk. All except Primelocation.com.
It seemed strange to retire amazing terms such as FindAProperty, in favour of a brand that just doesn't resonate with anyone, yet keep Primelocation alive.
Not only has Zoopla Property Group kept Primelocation going, but it has begun to really spend money on outdoor advertising to promote Primelocation.com. And people don't spend money without a reason:
Primelocation.com was started by Prime Central London estate agents. They still have an affinity to it (many are already off Rightmove). Could this be Zoopla's bargaining chip to get the likes of Savills, Knight Frank et al to drop Rightmove in London and stick with Zoopla/Primelocation?
Stranger things have happened. But if Alex Chesterman can pull this off, in the face of such overwhelming sentiment toward Rightmove's invincibility, it will likely be a greater achievement than any of the previous deals (which were amazing in each of their own rights).
And of course, this would suit Agents' Mutual perfectly: splitting Rightmove and Zoopla, in terms of listings inventory, is preferable to every Agents' Mutual member coming off Zoopla and handing Rightmove extra dominance.
So, London estate agents, is Primelocation.com useful enough to ditch Rightmove?
More on Agents' Mutual/OnTheMarket:
Not only has Zoopla Property Group kept Primelocation going, but it has begun to really spend money on outdoor advertising to promote Primelocation.com. And people don't spend money without a reason.
By all accounts, this Agents' Mutual is already a success. But for many agents sitting on the fence and many more property owners who have never even heard of this initiative, the success of this portal will come in the form of consumer traffic.
I think the fence-sitters and the public just don't matter for Agents' Mutual to succeed. Let me explain:
This is the question no-one is asking, but fundamentally the only question that counts.
All Agents' Mutual needs to succeed is to recruit agents and have those agents take their money (and listings) away from one or t'other of the UK portal duopolists.
In the true 'combative' tradition of Agents' Mutual, the logo is very RAF (British Royal Air Force).
And there is the deafening chorus of traditional estate agents screaming "Yes!". For years high street agents have been crying foul that Rightmove allows For-Sale-By-Owner sites to sneak listings next to theirs.
Rightmove and Zoopla will be dramatically effected by OnTheMarket.com. The Pundit explains the story so far.
Trulia makes almost as much revenue as Zillow. Trulia and Zillow have been level-pegging on most metrics for a few years, then Zillow suddenly flicked the turbo and both audience and market cap increased a gap to Trulia.
In a smart move, the not-yet-launched competitor portal has announced its brand name to 'hurry up' those agents who were concerned about the lack of a name.
This is well worth reading, if you're into this emerging portal war story.
Everybody wants to build a property portal:
Estate Agents who are annoyed someone else is making money; techies who find the home search a pain (it is); former investment bankers who think 'fixing real estate' is the next big dot com gold mine.
Is the UK movement become a global phenomenon?
It's strange that this essentially exists in the US, with MLSs, but because they are so fragmented, they've allowed new companies like Zillow and Trulia to steal a march.
Interesting to hear that Agents' Mutual now have a sales force, with many agents having not yet heard of the movement.
Most talk is about whether Agents' Mutual will have enough money to attract consumers. Money ≠ traffic.