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Portal Wars: What You Need to Know if You are Thinking of Selling.

by Jul 3, 2015Choosing An Estate Agent, Market Trends0 comments

Property portals offer buyers and tenants a single site to see all the properties available, without having to search through hundreds of sites. Acting as a giant “search engine” for properties, property portals are designed to save searchers time and provide a more efficient way to find the right property. Zoopla and Rightmove have been the ‘go to’ property portals for a numbers of years now. However, with the introduction of the new property portal ‘On The Market’ at the beginning of this year, with restrictive rules only allowing member agents to advertise on one other property portal, property searchers now have a third site to scrawl through.

How did property portals get started and who was the first? 

Most people would say that Rightmove was the first, but that’s not quite true. The Guild of Professional Estate Agents was actually the first company, to my knowledge, that launched a website that we now know as a property portal. In the early days around mid 1990’s, Malcolm Lindley, founder of the Guild, published its property magazine online at The magazine was, and still is, an effective way for the members of The Guild to market their properties on a national basis. The website then developed from an online magazine to listing all the properties for sale that member agents were currently offering. was started in 2000 by the top four corporate estate agencies at the time: Countrywide, Connells, Halifax and Royal and Sun Alliance. The website was initially free to list with charging introduced in January 2002

The story of Rightmove is quite extraordinary and shows how important property is to the British public.

So, why do we need more than one? How can one portal be better than another?

We need and demand a choice – that’s why over the past decade, many portals have come and gone, or have been bought by Zoopla! Rightmove suggests that they have over 92% of the market, so why do users visit Zoopla and Onthemarket? Desparation? Frustration? Thoroughness?

Each website does have different searching tools and some unique valuable properties, but the reality is that there is huge duplication between the sites. With the introduction of OnTheMarket earlier this year and the requirement of member agents to only advertise their properties on one other portal site, member agents were essentially faced with the decision of whether to drop Zoopla or Rightmove. Zoopla lost about 25% of its members to OnTheMarket, whereas Rightmove lost less than 5%. So, Rightmove still has the majority of available properties, Zoopla are the next biggest, with Onthemarket a poor third. And that means Onthemarket are attracting less visitors. SO WHY WOULD AN AGENT LEAVE ZOOPLA TO LIST WITH ONTHEMARKET?

The truth is about money and power. The founders of OnTheMarket wanted to wrestle control away from Rightmove and halt the escalating costs of Rightmove. But, the reality is the opposite. OnTheMarket is unlikely to ever be able to raise enough funding to compete with the giant that is Rightmove, and all that has happened is that they have slightly weakened Zoopla’s market share making Rightmove even stronger. I am convinced, therefore, that all agents will suffer higher price rises with Rightmove now.

As a conscientious, proactive estate agency, we monitor very carefully the source of all our leads. The very interesting fact over the last 3 months is that leads from Zoopla have increased from both buyers and tenants. It’s a powerful brand, particularly in London; with links to many other websites such as Evening Standard, Mail Online, Telegraph, Primelocation, Halifax, Talk Talk and MSN. From Zoopla, The Evening Standard ran an article 2 weeks ago identifying Huntingdon and Godmanchester as commuter hotspots. From that one article we organised 4 viewings from London based buyers and achieved full asking price for one of our properties.

Our Decision to stay with Rightmove and Zoopla

At Malcolms, we made the decision not to advertise our properties with OnTheMarket and to continue to advertise on both Rightmove and Zoopla. We do not want our clients’ properties sitting on a relatively unknown website, missing out on the thousands of potential buyers visiting Rightmove and Zoopla each day.

We are not alone in thinking this.

Home Owners Alliance advise that “If your main concern is optimising exposure of your home to as many potential buyers as possible then find an agent who is not with OTM and still using Rightmove AND Zoopla”.

With Zoopla receiving, on average, 46 million visits each month compared to OnTheMarket’s 3 million. Agents that no longer advertise their properties on Zoopla are effectively missing out on 43 million online visits each month. 

To achieve the maximum selling price for your home you need to maximise its exposure, that’s why we choose Rightmove and Zoopla to advertise our clients’ properties on.


Malcolm Thomas

Founder at Malcolms Estate Agents

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