According to challenger portal, OneDome, estate agents are becoming increasingly reliant on the major portals due to their dominance over the last decade.
This dependency has formed despite agents providing the portals with all their content and misalignment of interests between the two business models.
Therefore, agents need to seriously consider how they can reduce their dependency on the major portals by embracing alternatives and prioritising other marketing techniques.
Why are the major portals so dominant?
The established portals have grown to host a huge amount of content, allowing consumers to see the majority of the market from a single website.
The more content a portal displays, the more people will come and check listings. Higher traffic allows portals to charge higher subscription fees to agents.
Significant growth of the major portals means consumers now expect agents to provide online listings on these websites when selling their property. This means agents have to rely on listings websites to secure instructions.
Babek Ismayil, Founder and CEO of OneDome, explains: “This scenario has led portals to increase their listing costs, meaning agents are now spending more than ever before on the same listing service.
"Portal costs for agents are also rising due to a lack of competition in the marketplace. There is a lack of new listings websites for several reasons, including agents being protective of stock which results in a high start-up cost for a new business.
"By being protective of their listings, estate agents inadvertently make it more difficult for new businesses to enter the market and compete against the larger portals. Instead they further empower established portals and help cement their market monopoly, which then allows those portals to charge agents more."
How can agents reduce their reliance on big portals?
Ismayil says that if agents are committed to reducing their dependence on the major portals it can be achieved through a combination of supporting competition in the portal sector and embracing marketing alternatives.
He says: “More competition between portals can help to reduce the dominance of the established sites while providing agents with more channels to promote their clients’ properties.
“If the major portals no longer have the monopoly on listings their influence over consumers will diminish and therefore their stranglehold on agents and their ability to keep increasing costs will also suffer. What's more, agents can benefit by being more proactive in using alternative marketing solutions such as social media to generate exposure for listings.
“The influence of social media continues to grow, with more consumers using platforms like Facebook as a place to buy and sell things and property will be no different. Agents should consider getting ahead of the curve now and advertising properties through social media while it is still a differentiator.”
He adds that agents can also benefit from focusing on improving their own websites: “If agents’ websites had a better customer experience, consumers may start to see them as a viable route to search for properties instead of solely using the portals."