Problem 1: A corporate duopoly and a failed challenger.
Rightmove has started trialling direct sales and is getting closer to their members' transactions.
ZPG is diversifying away from listing and adding more services to their portals that take business away from agents.
Onthemarket de-mutualised, selling out its original members, floated on AIM and has had five years to overtake Zoopla and failed. It is still burning cash at unsustainable rates, which means another investor cash raise & further external shareholder control. It offers nothing new as it is a flawed and unsustainable corporate business model.
Problem 2: Long-term, lock-in contracts and equity inducements.
PropertyMutual does not make our partners sign expensive, long-term, lock-in corporate contracts, or offer inducements like so called equity. We believe our principles stand up to scrutiny on their own merits; and such contracts restrict freedom of choice and the ability of a business to react to changing circumstances.
Problem 3: "Free" portals.
So called "free" portals offer a quick fix but no accountability and no long term answer - see below..
The original, ethical, mutual property services platform, delivering services that benefit only our agent members, not unaccountable corporations.
Q. Why do the listed, private equity backed and corporate portals want property listings so badly?
A. To maintain their stranglehold over online property marketing; and to annually increase subscriptions making super profits for their external investors and shareholders.
Q. Why not use a "free" portal if they can send leads?
A. "Free" portals do not generate enough revenue to fund a marketing budget sufficient to compete with the corporate portals.
B. There is no such thing as a "free lunch" or "free portal". They all have investors and advertisers to cover their costs. Investors always have an exit strategy and will cash out. What then happens to the data supplied by agents?
C. There is zero long term benefit in supporting a business that agents do not own or control and which investors will ultimately sell for profit.
Q. Why do "free" portals keep appearing?
A. There is hidden value in these portals for their investors to exploit.
Q. What is the "hidden value" these non-mutual portals want to own, control and sell?
A. Agents' data! With limited or no accountability to the agents who supply the data, all these portals and CRM businesses control and sell agents' data for their profit, and agents pay them for the privilege or give it to them for free!
Q. What are the barriers stopping agents controlling their own costs and profiting from their own data?
A. The Portals - Fund controlled Rightmove; private equity controlled ZPG; and AIM listed OTM. Any portal with even a per centage of external shareholder control is not working solely in the best interests of its agent members.
B. Some leading agent software providers. They control agents' data and profit from it whilst erecting barriers to portal competition by charging high subscriptions to export their clients' data on a per portal basis.
C. There are other software providers like 10ninety, Acquaint CRM that charge agents a single, multi-portal export subscription. We will add other such providers to this post as we are made aware of them.
Q. So what? Who does this barrier to competition harm?
A. Agents everywhere are hurt as marketing costs will keep rising due to challenger portals being priced out of the market.
B. Agents are not profiting from their own data which is being controlled and monetised by third parties.
B. Consumers everywhere are hurt as barriers to competition keep overheads high.
Q. Is there an alternative to the current status quo?
A. Yes, but only one. The only business model that can overcome these issues is Property Mutual - partner funded, owned and run. A legitimate, ethical, 100% independent, mutual with a charitable assignment condition. Any surplus we generate is distributed as voted for by our partners: reinvested, bonus or diverted to social causes, not external shareholders.
Q. Why will PropertyMutual succeed as a PropTech listing platform?
A. We are here for the long haul, impose none of the restrictions of other portals, will never relinquish our independence and, with sufficient support from the industry, can generate £30m per annum marketing budget, year on year, without ever having to raise cash from external sources.
PropertyMutual is legally structured to be never-for-sale in order to be a partner run and funded digital marketing business 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 partners 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 our partners 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 partners. These professionals partners 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 partnership 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.