Why The Property Portals Should Be Embracing Proptech To Build Integrations That Add Value To Agents

April 21st, 2023 | 3 minute read

Business

Staff on computers

Historically, the major portals have faced a backlash from frustrated estate agents who have been dealt incessant rate rises.  Double digit price rises year on year have left agents feeling frustrated that they are paying more for the same product. The portals essentially replaced print media, which itself was a significant cost, and one which most agents felt that they couldn’t operate without. 

It is staggering that over the last decade, Rightmove has made record profits with the average revenue per advertiser surging by 148.39% since 2013. 

Ten years ago, the average revenue per advertiser (ARPA) was £529 per month compared with 2023, now sitting at £1,314 per month – the second-highest year ever for absolute ARPA growth.

Though Rightmove is the number one portal with a powerful foothold in UK property, it does share duopoly status with Zoopla. The big question is why haven’t the portal giants delivered more added value to agents and embraced the wider proptech community, to build meaningful integrations with the software from which their content source is held?

In reality, the portals are empty vessels without the data sent to them by CRM software solutions and used by the very agents who pay their ever-increasing fees. It is the single biggest complaint on industry news portals.  Whilst On The Market seems to be in better shape under Jason Tebb’s stewardship, I still don’t see them breaking up the duopoly, which was the original mission statement, in the foreseeable future. 

Sky view of houses Team in office

An alternative approach to the millions invested into On The Market would have been to use the power of the Agents Mutual associated companies to host regular data boycotts of the major portals, perhaps over bank holiday weekends, driving property searches to the agents’ own websites. This would have demonstrated the strength of the consortium and reminded the major portals that they need their content. 

Zoopla has bought software companies.  However, agents who chose those software companies originally will have done so pre-Zoopla ownership, so they will be experiencing a very different approach.

Boomin tried to engage with software companies but did not provide an adequate incentive to suppliers.  In fact, only 8%of our clients signed up for the free trial, so we were reluctant to invest in this project, without a clear strategic ROI proposition. 

Boomin tried to tap into the casual browser of property to create a marketplace and monetise it which in principle was a smart idea. Portals receive huge volumes of traffic which they do not end up transacting with, so it made sense to investigate this opportunity. 

Ultimately, better engagement with the source of the data would allow for more successful innovation, but the portals have never seen the software houses as anything more than a facilitator of data feeds. Although, with the consistent profit margins they achieve, I guess there is less incentive to innovate, or try to pursue meaningful collaborations. 

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