Michael Bruce, the CEO and co-founder of the recently launched British challenger portal Boomin, has taken a swipe at big portal companies making money from mortgage referrals without compensating agents.
In an open letter sent to the agent press in The UK this morning, Bruce criticises the big property portals for their "double-digit fee hikes" and takes aim at the increasingly lucrative practice of selling mortgage referral leads to lenders - something that Bruce sees as unfair practice given that agents are not compensated despite supplying the listings which bring consumer eyeballs to the mortgage comparisons in the first place.
"As an industry, how did we ever let it come into existence that Rightmove and Zoopla could effectively sell agents mortgage referral leads, which have only come to them through agents paid adverts on the portals, to the highest bidder."
"Without agents paying for property adverts, this additional income stream for the portals would not exist. I wouldn’t mind so much if they shared the income, which is pure additional profit to them. But instead they choose to pocket it all. And it is not that they need the money. Rightmove has the highest profit margin in the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s largest companies and 4x that of Alphabet, owner of Google, a company regularly the subject of monopolistic concerns."
Since his days as a co-founder of revolutionary online agency Purplebricks, Michael Bruce and his brother Kenny, have had a penchant for stirring up the British property industry and playing an aggressive PR game. Their tactics haven't changed with their latest venture and they have managed to win over many sceptical agents in the industry with a mix of honesty towards agents and hostility towards rivals.
The latest missive from the company (which sees itself not as a classifieds portal but as an "agent centric new business generation platform") is designed to put the word out about a new tool from Boomin around mortgages named MortgageMaker.
Although neither the details around MortgageMaker nor the launch date was revealed in this morning's letter, Bruce did go into the motivation behind Boomin's new tool:
"the new feature will be totally free for all Agent partners, rightfully giving agents with their own mortgage services arrangements all their income and providing a new income stream for those who do not."
Getting British agents to act collectively has been a notoriously difficult undertaking both for portals and for those seeking to redress the balance of power in the industry in recent times. The Boomin PR machine clearly believes it is on to a winner though by targeting its latest broadside against a sore point for agents and trying to galvanise agents against the 'big three' portals.
Read Bruce's letter in full at The Negotiator who first published it. Below, The Negotiator's Editor Nigel Lewis explains The UK's prickly portal-agent relations: