So Boomin has belatedly launched with a bang. We were promised a slick advertising campaign and a shiny new website, and thus far founders, the Bruce brothers, haven’t disappointed. Boomin’s TV adverts are certainly making a big noise with their highly-effective ‘boom’ hook.
The question now is whether Boomin lives up to its promise to give agents increased power and a more equitable slice of the rewards. And will this proposition, alongside a host of unique features, attract enough new agents to challenge Rightmove and Zoopla’s positions as the nation’s preeminent portals? We assess Boomin’s prospects below…
The new features
Our first impression is that the Boomin website looks excellent. There have also been reports that their support is “better than the other portals”. It’s Boomin’s four new features, however, that have really got agents talking:
1. Secret Properties: After valuing a property, agents can tease potential buyers by revealing key details (the number of bedrooms and bathrooms for example) without revealing the home’s precise identity. Buyers will know enough, however, to decide whether to register an interest. Then they’ll receive alerts if the property does eventually come to market.
2. Sneak Peek: This feature allows Boomin users to view a property two weeks before it officially comes to market. This will surely attract property hunters to the portal, but we’re not sure it will benefit vendors and landlords. Most will want to reach the widest possible audience straight away.
3. MatchMaker: This is the feature that’s put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. It enables homebuyers to create an advert asking for a specific type of property in a very specific location. Homebuyers can also ‘follow’ certain properties whether they’re on the market or not. This lets you follow your dream property and receive a notification if it ever becomes available.
Sellers can also post an ad to gauge interest in their property before it officially launches. Then they can then ask an agent to introduce them to interested buyers if they proceed. Agents therefore act as ‘match-makers’ that introduce buyers and sellers like a dating service. Cilla Black would’ve been impressed.
4. Property Playground: A glimpse into the future? This facility is like the meeting of property portals with Pinterest. It allows users to ‘like’ photographs of fireplaces, kitchen islands, and other home features, and then create boards to compile ideas for their new home.
This facility is so innovative because it showcases the work of designers and allows users to click through to third party websites where they can buy the things they like. It therefore enables people to browse for a new home and then start furnishing it within the same platform.
What does Boomin cost?
The Bruce brothers have decided to follow the traditional portal pricing model: agents are charged for listing properties with additional fees for marketing services. It currently costs £300 to list a property for sale, £399 for sales and lettings, and £150 for lettings only. There is an extra premium for London properties though.
It’s worth pointing out that Boomin’s platform will be free for all agents for a year though. And founder agents will also be able to upload unlimited properties during this time. This enticing carrot should be enough for many agents to bite.
Friend or foe?
Despite its plethora of new features, not everybody is a fan of Boomin. Some agents feel uncomfortable about the Bruce brothers’ history with Purple Bricks. Meanwhile, there are lingering doubts about whether the industry actually needs another portal.
The critics’ biggest worry, however, is that Boomin might ultimately cut agents out. After all, the website offers a very similar service with property listings, market insights, plus a facility that matches buyers with sellers. However, whilst this has led to something of a backlash, it’s worth pointing out that Michael Bruce has promised to help rather than hinder agents. Boomin “has not, and will not, ever look to move to a direct model” he insists.
Meanwhile, some agents have welcomed Boomin as a “portal of the future” that will open up “new client/agent opportunities”. They also believe the platform will allow them to outsource some administrative tasks. The Guild Of Property Professionals, for example, has already given Boomin the thumbs up thanks partly to their pledge to “proudly back British Estate Agents”.
Boomin has launched with around 5,000 enlisted agents. This is approximately a quarter of the UK’s 21,000 agent population. Although this is still obviously a long way shy of Rightmove and Zoopla, it’s slightly more than OnTheMarket mustered six years ago; therefore it’s a promising start.
What’s more, although Connells and Countrywide will be not be joining Boomin’s burgeoning community due to their affiliation with Zoopla, it’s significant that 55 of the UK’s top 100 agents have already committed including Foxtons, Ellisons, Humberts, Kings Group, and Chancellors.
A match made in heaven?
Although Boomin’s MatchMaker facility has raised a few eyebrows, the new portal has certainly got agents talking. And that can only be a good thing. There’s nothing worse than being ignored.
In the long run, however, whether Boomin booms or implodes will probably hinge on whether they emerge as a legitimate challenger to Rightmove. If they can do so then more and more agents will be tempted to join – especially those who were frustrated when the Say No To Rightmove campaign fizzled out last year. For every agent hostile to the emergence of another major property portal, there’s another who’s fed up with Rightmove and cheering on Boomin.
It’s no coincidence, of course, that Michael Bruce has taken an anti-Rightmove position: “We are not just trying to build a credible alternative to Rightmove, we are determined to change the centre of gravity … the pips are already being squeezed by Rightmove and, if left unchecked and based on past experience the vast majority of agents will be paying 60% more by 2024,” he said.
Can the Bruce brothers succeed where others have failed? Only time will tell. But if a company with a £50 million marketing budget can’t succeed, then we’re not sure who can.