Competition Is Picking Up In London Housing Market

Zoopla and Rightmove will be experiencing some stiff competition with the development of a new real estate portal

In an effort to take full advantage of housing market recovery, Agents’ Mutual will be launching a new property search website backed by real estate agents early next year. The site will be challenging the dominant duopoly of Zoopla and Rightmove in the recuperating London, England real estate market. Six of London’s largest real estate brokers including Strutt & Parker, Savills and Knight Frank formed Agents’ Mutual earlier this year to compete with the two big property portals and their high cost listings.

Agents’ Mutual is ready to start building its brand and website, three months early, after crowdsourcing £3.6m in funding from over 1,000 real estate agent offices in the region. The mutual agency plans to open an additional 10,000 letting and real estate agency offices within the next five years. Ian Springett will be leading the creation of the website. Springett was the founder of Primelocation, a high-end property portal, which was sold in 2006 to Daily Mail and General Trust. Primelocation is now part of the Zoopla Group.

Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers that triggered the housing crisis, mortgage approvals were practically non-existent. However, Monday’s Bank of England mortgage approval figures for August soared to their highest level since this catastrophic event. Along with other positive data, these figures reinforced the sense of recovery that is spreading in the United Kingdom housing market. Another reinforcing factor is the government’s “Help to Buy” mortgage scheme that is expected to be launched in coming months.

By promising lower listing costs, Agents’ Mutual has attracted many small to medium sized real estate agents that will each have a share in the company, but not everyone is pleased with the success. Housing expert and property buying agent, Henry Pryor said, “Buyers currently have two principal destinations to go to search for property and the arrival of a third is likely to complicate rather than simplify their hunt for a new home.” Agents’ Mutual has failed to attract three of the largest agency groups, LSL Property Services, Connells and Countrywide, who are Zoopla shareholders. Over the past four months Hayward, Winkworths, Jackson-Stops and Kinleigh Folkard have joined Agents’ Mutual.

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