OnTheMarket: On the money action

There has been a certain sadness around upstart property portal OnTheMarket (OTM) over the last year. Supporters have looked on with trepidation as OTM's Board bet the house on a court case against larger and better-funded organisations (/sometime clients). Even non-believing agents have felt a soupcon of sorrow as they saw fellow travellers on the verge of losing it all on a court case that was, at the very least, an attempt to protect their own historic way of life.

But – I think to broad astonishment, bearing in mind the coverage of the case – OnTheMarket won.

Yes, this week saw open mouths and rubbed eyes as the industry took in the news that it was competitively NECESSARY for customers (agents) to collectively restrict each others' advertising to “one other portal”(OOP), alongside OnTheMarket. Even if that one was almost always Rightmove – to Zoopla’s detriment.

The original action was brought by OnTheMarket against Gascoigne Halman, a founding client of theirs that was acquired by Connells. Gascoigne Halman subsequently refused to abide by the OOP rule that it had signed up to. The court case ensued – and some lawyers made a lot of money.

Where this leaves everyone is still a bit up in the air. An appeal is being mooted and OnTheMarket is talking about a relaunch strategy. It’s got a huge task ahead of it to re-establish momentum and reconnect with its potential clients and – particularly – consumers.

If it can learn the lessons of its original launch - that it really does need something unique and interesting for sellers and landlords, particularly, to get their teeth into on site - then it can start to punch holes in Zoopla once more. It will need a charm offensive to secure its current client base and perhaps a campaigning edge to draw more in.

In the meantime, Rightmove sails serenely on …