Rightmove features heavily in our day-to-day modern life, especially for homeowners and those looking for a new property. Parents scour its pages to find out if a home is located in a catchment area for a good school, neighbours check the prices of nearby homes for sale or to see if a home has been sold yet. The appreciation, condition and size of a home are important barometers of rank, and Rightmove seems to have become the source of this knowledge, a website of significant importance for residents across the country.
Zoopla is another platform which is well known to many residents, with On The Market trailing behind in popularity. However, many residents would never have heard of TheHouseShop, Propertyheads or Property Mutual, which are all current sites acting as property portals. The last few years have seen many aborted attempts to create property portals, a clue of how extremely tough the market is to rival the established portals.
Houser, in 2015, was predicted to be the next big player in property portals, but they scraped properties from other websites and agents, which caused controversy, and the site was eventually abandoned. In 2015, another portal launched, The Home Board, which initially covered London. However, this site has since disappeared. In the same year a portal named YellowFish also announced its launch, with a promise to have around 2,000 lettings and sales offices signed up before the site opened the following spring. However, nothing was heard from this site again.
In 2017, the CIELA (Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents) Group considered launching a portal with the aim of highlighting the inventories of independent agents, however, the idea became a low priority, with even the group itself failing to launch. In late 2017, Housemap launched with a database intended to contain 500,000 properties. However, with most of these listings scraped from rival sites, and failing to secure the necessary approval, the site disappeared the following year.
In 2018, a portal called MyBackyard promised a site which would be open to landlords and private sellers, in addition to established agents. However, its holding page currently still states it is being launched in October 2018. In August, AllAgents, a review website, stated that it would launch a property portal, but nothing further has been heard to date. All of these property portals have failed, or failed to launch at all, but this was not down to a lack of budget for marketing, the common denominator instead being that any attempt to establish a form of nationwide portal for mainstream homes has failed.
Against the backdrop of these failures, the success of OnTheMarket has been impressive, although it continues to lack the extent of marketing budget which is required to attract the level of awareness that Zoopla and Rightmove enjoy. However, start-up portals with more small-scale goals focusing on a limited geographic scale or one sector of the wider market have succeeded, with Ex-Council, REalyse, WeListThemAll and UltraPrimus and others appearing to be doing well, and in a few cases, thriving. But in order to truly disrupt Zoopla and Rightmove, a portal would need a large scale marketing budget, which is difficult to win in the current political and economic climate in the UK.
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