As with everything in life, things change. They progress, develop, pivot and streamline. All in the name of greater efficiency. Industries have an obligation to lead the charge in this respect and the world is now full of companies striving to provide frictionless choice to its consumers.

Why then, has the listing portal model remained entrenched in old habits and basic offerings? Well, one answer to this could be the ‘don’t rock the boat’ theory. Since they began at the dawn of the internet, listing portals have been merely a digital shop window and have remained largely unchanged with little or no real innovation. Rightmove has been able to build such a dominant market share because their relevance to the industry is tied directly to the fact that the only alternative choice for agency’s is cheaper or worse sameness. Any innovation risks the very fabric of what they do and how they do it. They are now a Goliath, a giant of its time, the IBM of the property industry. But have they become complacent? Have they run out of ideas on how to build revenue and satisfy its shareholders aside from increasing agency subscription fees? Or maybe they don’t actually want to open up that can of worms. There aren’t many other industries where a company can continue increasing fees whilst transaction rates and customer base is shrinking. And does their competition have no other ideas to steel away precious little market share other than offering a race the bottom in fees?

We’ve already seen in the online agency world that a race to the bottom only serves to steal initial market share, but ultimately will result in poor performance, poor customer satisfaction and a model which is not sustainable for the long term. Being ‘free’ or ‘cheaper’ than your competition is ok for a period. Sure, it will help get some market share on board early on. You may even make a name for yourself. But unless there is a genuinely unique and valuable reason for customers to come to you then all it serves to do is cheapen an otherwise valuable service and will only end in user numbers dropping once people realise that there’s nothing really unique about what you do.

There are some fantastic agents out there who have had to cater for a massive change in consumer behaviours and demands using the same tools they were given 20 years ago. In what other industry would that be the case? It’s akin to asking a carpenter to build houses twice as fast in order to keep up with current demand but only giving them the same manual tools they were given years ago, instead of providing them with modern power tools. Or telling Uber drivers they have to use a map instead of sat nav to find their way around.

The time has come to offer agents an alternative to the status quo. A genuinely unique and valuable tool to list properties and generate hot leads. A democratised playing field where choice is paramount and friction reduced. Where agents can double the size of their market place by accessing the ‘grey property market’.

Read about the ‘grey property market’ in our next blog.

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