Why? Due to the upward only pricing and stranglehold of a corporate duopoly; and the entry to the market of a recently de-mutualised portal which is now publicly listed and subject to the same external influence as the corporate portals.
PropertyMutual.com went live in January 2014. It is delivered by a member owned, limited by guarantee, company CREVALA (Commercial, Rural, Estate, Valuation, Auction & Letting Agents), as the independent body that contracts for the use and development of the existing facilities available through the PropTech business Propertyportal.com.
Further, PropertyMutual proposes a way of addressing what we believe to be key reasons why OTM has failed:
PropertyMutual is legally structured to be never-for-sale in order to be a member run and funded digital marketing partner for property professionals and developers. We are the only portal where property professionals and developers can confidently subscribe, in the certain knowledge that we will never sell out, float on the stock market or change our business structure. Such practices have pushed up property marketing prices to the detriment of our members and their clients, and for the sole benefit of portal founders and shareholders.
‘To be recognised as the ethical and equitable mutual property portal, operating in the best interests of members and consumers, setting and enforcing professional standards of property listing, and delivering innovative property related services for all’.
PropertyMutual believes that the UK consumer, whether house hunting for purchase, rental or sharing, is either unaware of, or indifferent to, the property industry debate about a corporate duopoly dominating the industry and imposing upwards-only pricing on property professionals.
The British public will not be told where they can and cannot market their own property. Nor do they want to be made to go to a multitude of different property portals, some allowing only High Street Agents and excluding online agents, some allowing developers and others excluding them. The British consumer expects to be supplied with what it wants, namely -
This means that a property portal must be focused primarily on the needs of the consumer, whilst providing a trustworthy, cost effective and permanent property marketing partner for its members. These professionals members have to be unafraid of competing on their own merits in a free market and open portal in the 21st century.
It is estimated that there are at least 15-20,000 estate and letting agents in the UK regularly listing property with the big two portals. This does not include property developers, or commercial and agricultural agents. The maths is simple and transparent. Charging "at cost" subscriptions will still provide us with a £multi-million marketing and operational budget. We have no loans or interest to repay, no IT start up costs and no property portal to build from scratch.
Placed alongside the marketing budgets of the duopoly our ambitions are lofty but we believe the industry is crying out for a credible mutual guaranteeing that it is never-for-sale. With a motivated and committed membership advertising PropertyMutual in their windows on the High Street, and through word of mouth and targeted media advertising, we firmly believe there is sufficient scope to grow PropertyMutual as the only trustworthy, transparent, and not-for-profit property portal so desperately needed by both the consumer and property professionals.