I saw a recent comment from brightmove on the EAT which indicated that a property portal which paid agents for property would be 'cool'.
Although said in tongue and cheek, it begs the question: does the user actually need a portal?
I wrote a long time ago about local search and the possibilities of local agents getting together and building a local portal for their area. It strikes me this may have some merit, but could you take it one stage further?
As a user, I will have made some preliminary decisions as to where I want to move, i.e. South coast around the Southampton area as I will be working there. I am prepared to travel no more than 20 miles to commute. Using established portals I can filter the parameters of my search, but with so many portals can I be confident that the majority of property is on there? Are there hidden gems in small agent offices that are feeding to other portals I don't know about or not using the portals at all.
If I therefore come across a local portal that claims to have all the agents in and around Southampton along with local content, information on schools etc, I am going to be tempted to explore.
But how have I found this local portal? Perhaps through advertising, but more than likely through a Google search and to weed out the other portals I may have been more specific with my search. To this end, I am already searching a niche and if I find an agent matching my search criteria it is a strong possibility they will have a property fitting my description. Does the future therefore lie with niche agents and local portals?
As an agent, should I just pursue one market, for example, village property, or go one step further and dominate the thatched cottage market for my area and perhaps a little further afield?
If I undertake this course, there is argument to say I don't need a portal. Indeed, I am already reducing my marketing spend and if I corner the thatched cottage market and excel in my seo/sem why should I need a portal?
Perhaps now is the time for Google to enter the space and allow agents to self market without the need for portals
I believe that it is only be challenging the existence of our business and asking such questions we can improve and offer services both the user and the agent needs.