Two years in the making and with a planned launch date of December 2020, Boomin was delayed to try and sign up enough agents to make a splash immediately. It has now launched with 160 staff and aims to challenge the big three U.K. portals, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
Like OnTheMarket it allows agents to have signed up from the beginning to have a stake in the company. It has a number of big agencies signed up to it, including 55 of the top 100 agents in the UK who have become founder partners. With 5,000 agents in all at launch, it has about 25% of the number of agents Zoopla and Rightmove currently have, according to new figures published.
All agents get free listings for 12 months. The launch comes with a big advertising campaign, including on prime time U.K. TV. Boomin says the campaign will run almost daily over the next three years to try and make Boomin’ a household name as Rightmove has for the U.K. population.
The new website is very nicely presented, has good functionality and runs glitch-free. It has a selection of new features, including ‘sneak peeks’, previewing properties before they go live and ‘secret properties’ which are high value but would need a huge degree of agent commitment to execute on.
Its ‘MatchMaker’ is described as “a unique service that helps buyers connect with homeowners who aren’t on the market”, by placing an advert pinpointing a home buyers ideal location so potential sellers can ask for an introduction, supported by an agent. This feature could be interpreted as a way to bypass agents. On the other hand matching sellers and buyers in this way could be a new way of getting deals done quickly.
The question is: Will Boomin be able to get enough exclusive listings to make it valuable to buyers and agents? On launch, it appears to lack listings in total, let alone exclusive ones, though the U.K. property market is in the middle of a massive boom with new listings being snapped up in many places.
In a local area to me, Boomin only had one agent listing its properties at launch. This means potential buyers would probably opt to look on portals with more than one, or even on estate agents’ own websites. This isn’t necessarily a terminal problem if, with its advertising strategy it can persuade enough agents to join over time to build a strong set of listings and, crucially, get them to list exclusive properties.
The Bruce Brothers previous business, PurpleBricks, had a bad name among U.K. agents because its selling point was that agents were not needed and people could sell their homes for a fraction of the cost without agents. This sentiment is reflected in comments on industry websites.
Boomin’ could also be hampered by ‘new portal fatigue,’ with a number of new portals launching in the U.K. in the last 18 months or so to try and compete with the big three, with little success so far.
“The real hard work is just beginning as we progress our journey, said co-founder Michael Bruce. Our platform will never stand still. We will continue to test, learn and innovate to drive the customer and agent experience ever forward.”