Portals are an emotive subject.
Putting that to one side OneDome's new entrant has two things potentially differentiating it.
1. Not only is it free but it purports to be able to actually pay agents for referrals.
2. It's search engine at last moves away from out dated single area search.
Can what they're doing, apparently supported by a sizeable marketing budget, shake up the status quo?
Last week saw OneDome entering the portal fray.
Before talking about portals it’s worth thinking about another contentious issue – referrals.
Recent Countrywide figures report that for every £1 they make in agency fees they make c. 45p in referral fees. Ignoring pros and cons – that’s for another time – it’s always been the case that ‘corporate’ and large agency groups are superb at monetising extra agency leads. It’s also the case that the vast majority of independent agents simply aren’t.
Reason I mention this is that central to OneDome’s portal is not so much the fact that there are no price rises for 100 years, but that any referral fees a visitor creates whilst there and looking at an agents’ properties will be shared with the agent. Looking at comments made by agents under launch PR it was clear that this was a source of contention – i.e. why should a portal take a share of the referral fees that an agent would earn anyway.
Well, if all agents were as good as those making the comments then I’d agree. But most are not. Furthermore there will be an iceberg sized contingent of visitors who would never make it to an agent’s inbox but might just use a well presented service they see on the portal – thus creating a new stream of income.
Proof will come of course, but now that One Other Portal is dead I’m not quite sure why anyone wouldn’t wait to see what this produces.
From what I know of founder Babek Ismayil he doesn’t do anything by halves and the reported budget for advertising should be enough.
I’m certainly a fan of a ‘google style’ search that moves buyers and tenants out of the dark age ‘search by area’ box – tenants and buyers are now far less bothered about exactly where they live and using portals that force them to do endless searches in individual areas is out dated. Most will be happy to live anywhere in London, East West North South, they just have a set of criteria, say ‘5 mins from the tube, close to Gym, walking distance to a Pret’ whatever. So I welcome this update and will watch to see how the other portals react. If OneDome creates a more modern search AND brings a small dividend to client agents, whilst showcasing their properties for free, then it’ll be difficult to argue against.
Still, we all know the agency community is a tough one to win over – so let battle commence.
- Ed Mead.
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