Property portals have been around for a few years now and have completely changed how the property market works. The recent announcement of plans to launch a major new property portal – Boomin – could change things yet again. So here we’ll take a took at what Boomin could mean for the business.
It’s no exaggeration to say property portals have transformed the way buying and selling houses works. For buyers portals mean that, instead of having to go to every local estate agent separately, they can just jump onto their chosen portal and search for the new home they want. They’ve also improved market transparency by allowing buyers to easily compare properties, and prices, in any given area back to back.
Property portals have meant big changes for estate agents too. They’ve been real market disruptors. They’ve meant that rather than doing their own DIY marketing agents pretty much have to list a property on a portal to get full market exposure for it. They’ve made agents reliant on the portals, and involved a cost implication for them too.
So far there are three main property portals in the UK market – Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market. This research from last year said that Rightmove is the biggest portal in the UK (and worldwide) by volume of site visits with around 67 million per month. Other names include Homesearch and another new launch, Openbrix.
What are Boomin’s plans ?
Since Boomin announced its upcoming launch it has only given fairly sketchy details about what it intends to bring to table. Amongst other details on the Boomin website the new company says it intends to be ‘The most agent - and customer-centric solution ever created’ and that its mission is ‘Transforming the property market for everyone’. Boomin says it will open up the market and get more people moving, get customers engaging with agents, increase revenues and give agents unprecedented brand exposure, increase agent productivity and enhance their profile.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Boomin is the people behind it. Boomin is being founded by the entrepreneurs who established online estate agency Purplebricks in 2012 before exiting it last year. They are Executive Chairman Michael Bruce, his brother Kenny plus fellow Purplebricks founder David Shepherd. Under their stewardship, though sometimes attracting controversy, Purplebricks pretty much become a household name in estate agency in the UK.
Reports say that Boomin has already been talking with potential investors and plans to raise millions of pounds to spend on the new portal.
Boomin also says that it has already hired around a hundred staff to set up and run the new portal including 60 tech. staff, and plans to double its staff numbers soon. The company has also recruited some very high profile names with relevant property, tech. and disruptive industry experience. These include Gary Barker formerly of property software provider Reapit as CEO, Phil Lloyd formerly of Paddy Power-Betfair (now Flutter) and Carwow as CMO, Andrew Stewart formerly of Zoopla and Cazoo as COO and Lesley Dunn formerly of Zoopla and Rightmove as Sales Director.
So what will the planned launch of Boomin mean for the property business ?
Being frank, for both house sellers and house buyers, Boomin might not make a lot of practical difference. At the end of the day buyers just want to buy and sellers just want to sell. They will still work through an agent, either online or offline, who will be their principal service provider.
Estate agents will no doubt be fascinated to find out what Boomin might do for them. Agents have been facing a real battle of their own in recent years, with online and offline agents competing for market share. Some have been dissatisfied for some time about the hold portals have on the market, and particularly about the fees they charge agents. If Boomin can address that, provide them with the benefits and rewards it says it will, and all under a slick new brand many agents will have difficult decisions to make.
So far as the other portals are concerned, Boomin could be a massive game changer. There’s likely to be something of a war between some very experienced and skilled property and tech. players. It will be interesting to see how the existing portals try to hold or build market share, particularly in terms of the marketing they do and what they charge agents. It’s possible there could be casualties.
As to whether Boomin will change the property market itself: The truth is that it probably won’t. It won’t be able to do anything about the economy, Covid-19, interest rates, Stamp Duty, or have any real impact on prices. Although Boomin says that one of its aims is to ‘get people moving’ there’s nothing it can do to make the market boom. There’ll still be a similar amount of sellers, and buyers – just spread around a little differently.
Boomin hasn’t announced a definite launch date so far, saying only that it is launching in 2020.