Firmly placed to champion the cause of the poor downtrodden estate agents of the land, Sir Galahad Springett came charging forth upon his steed, ‘Rally to me you good knights of estate agency’ he cried, ‘ and together we shall lay low the dragons who sit upon their ill-gotten treasures’.

Every time I sit in a room listening to Ian Springett talk I can’t help but be impressed.

I am, first and foremost, an Estate Agent but that isn’t the part of me that is impressed. I am also a salesman and I admire any good salesman when I see one in action.

I admire Ian for recognising a need, building a product and pitching it well. He always come across as passionate, principled, well meaning and purposeful. My problem with it all is that I feel he is pitching it to the wrong audience and therefore it probably is the wrong product.

Estate Agents are a certain breed of person, they have their strengths, which many in other industries don’t display, but they also have their weaknesses, very obvious ones to see, especially if you are placed within the industry.

Mr Springett, I assume, recognised that the tendency for agents to bemoan how much they paid newspapers for advertising space transposed itself across to the property portals. To most agents the profits that the likes of Rightmove continuously post hurt deep down, not only in the wallets but because at every level estate agency profits are being squeezed in business. Why should a company that makes its living within the property sector be making increased profits when the people paying those prices see their income diminishing, surely all should receive the same share of good and bad.

Up pops Agents Mutual. The answer to every self-respecting agents woes. The people’s website, property searching for the true of heart.

But it isn’t is it?

On the Market is a property portal built to please an estate agents need to weaken the big boys, Rightmove and Zoopla. It feels as if it is designed as a concept to please estate agents and no one else.

The real clients are the home sellers. The users are the buying public.

What does On The Market feel it requires to be successful?

It requires estate agents to do its marketing for it, to promote it as an idea.

It requires agents to forego marketing clients homes on one or other of the main portals.

It wants agents to withhold listings from other portals for a period of time (who asked the home sellers of the UK if that is what they wanted?)

It requires more agents to pull away from Rightmove or Zoopla

Most importantly it needs to create traction within the online community, it has to become the number one place to go to for buyers before they visit Rightmove or Zoopla.

For it to succeed it needs to provide a service that people feel provides a benefit.

Which of the above goals has it achieved? You tell me.

For a website to succeed as a property portal I feel it needs to provide people with a full market view. That includes developers and oh dear, so-called ‘online agents’.

A successful website needs to add value to the sector it targets not just, yet another alternative. The past is littered with skeletons of portals who have tried and failed.

I find it disappointing that the huge bulk of people who mention On The Market to me are those within the industry.

Where are the buyers, the sellers?

How do the fine knights of good old England feel about Sir Galahad Springett now?

I sincerely hope that On The Market can make headway. Like every estate agent I look at the costs I pay to portals and ask if it is justified. Like some agents I have to say, actually the portals treat me pretty fairly, I’d like to pay less but that is human nature. I believe it can be a good thing to provide an alternative to the ‘Big Two’ but I’m not sure the general public feel there is a need. People, as an industry we haven’t won the hearts and minds of the general public over the years have we? Our clients care about selling their homes for the best price, in a fashion that suits them, to a buyer that fits the sellers needs. I’m afraid worrying about our profits and costs is not high on the sellers priority list, quite the contrary.

I will tip my hat to Sir Galahad for his sales skills and perhaps I owe him thanks, would the other portals have been so good to me if On The Market weren’t there in the background? I’d like to think they would have but I’m probably just a naive estate agent.

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