Property portal competition heats up

property portal icons
Robert Holmes & Co. under offer board
Robert Holmes & Co. under offer board

A property portal due to launch later this month aims to become one of the UK’s top portals within months, despite being completely free for estate agents and property buyers and sellers.

A property portal due to launch later this month aims to become one of the UK’s top portals within months, despite being completely free for estate agents and property buyers and sellers.

Houser says its mission is “to stop property portals from dictating unfair terms and charging real estate agents exorbitant fees” and will instead enable agents to list properties without any charges for the next five years.

The new site will be populated at launch on 19 January with an inventory of UK properties obtained by crawling agents’ own websites and other published sources, such as private listings.

The site lists more than 5,300 UK estate agents, allowing those that have already signed up to Houser to populate the portal by uploading properties and other information.

But even agents that do not sign up to Houser will have their properties listed on the site. The advantages to property hunters include not only the centralisation of listings from a range of other portals and private sellers, but also a simple and automated ‘viewing scheduler’ service.

If, for example, a house hunter books to view 31 Acacia Avenue on with Agent A, the system will automatically alert them to the fact that 53 Acacia Avenue is on with Agent B and number 107 is listed by Agent C, and allow them to schedule multiple appointments online.

Houser is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur Rock Mirza, who made his money initially from registering thousands of domain names at the dawn of the internet. Since then, he has forged a reputation as a disruptor of established businesses and an innovator.

property portal banner
Property portals – Globrix, Rightmove, Primelocation, Zoopla, Find A Property, Fish 4 Homes

Market share mission

Mirza explains: “My goal is market share. We will not make any money for three years.”

He adds that Houser aims to provide consumers with a destination that allows them to consume property related information as and when needed. Mirza hopes this will make Houser the must-have, go-to site for property.

The secret behind Houser’s success will be the site’s ability to generate traffic, according to Mirza. “Once you have traffic and engagement, the money follows,” he says.

Houser’s ‘fremium’ business model – most commonly used by the owners of online games and apps – allows it to offer estate agents everything they currently receive from Rightmove and

Zoopla for nothing. However, in the future the site plans to make money by offering paid-for services.

“Once agents understand what they are getting for free, they will want to know how much they might get if they are paying,” says Mirza.

OnTheMarket.com
We will be OnTheMarket in January 2015

Crowded market

Houser is not the only property portal aiming to break the dominance of Rightmove and Zoopla. Property Division has already explored OnTheMarket’s chances of success, but other sites, including Lookingforahouse.co.uk, promise to make 2015 a year of great change in the property portal market.

Lookingforahouse.co.uk, which is also due to launch this month, claims to be “a new property portal that takes customers’ views into account” as it asks buyers to enter what they believe to be “a sufficient amount” for buying a property.

The information can then be used by agents to generate leads. The portal is initially aimed at agents based in Wales and costs £25 month, a price that is locked in for three years.