In a wide-ranging interview with investment research group Edison TV, acting CEO Clive Beattie answered questions about the potential conflict of interests between agent shareholders and those who are not customers of the portal.
The UK challenger portal was founded by a group of agents in 2015 to be the fairly priced alternative to the duopoly of Zoopla and Rightmove. In 2018 the portal floated on the stock market among controversy that the interests of third party shareholders would be in conflict with those of the agent shareholders. This has long been a bone of contention with some agent members, but, unsurprisingly, Beattie sees the two interests as one and the same.
The former CFO was also asked about the availability of capital for the portal to weather the current economic storm. Although OnTheMarket does not have the financial backing of its rivals, he said that the company had saved up £8.5 million to see it through and that despite having to furlough some staff and reduce salaries of others, all OnTheMarket employees were in favour of continuing to provide a 33% fee discount for its agent customers.
Alluding to the rise of the SayNoToRightmove campaign in the UK, Beattie said that agents have perhaps never been so aware that “the power is in their hands” and that ultimately it is agents who decide the winners and losers in the portal battles. Asked what differentiates his company from the competition, Beattie said that “sustainably fair pricing for agents” and the fact that many agents list new homes on OnTheMarket 24 hours before listing on rivals were among the factors that make the portal stand out.
The value proposition answer here can be taken as a nod to disgruntled Rightmove customers who have long cited ‘sustainably fair pricing' as their main gripe.
With its share price struggling and competition from heavily backed giants, OnThMarket will be hoping that the Covid-19 related crisis makes agents re-assess their priorities and perhaps leave Rightmove and increase spend elsewhere.