Agents react to Rightmove listing-fee hike

08 Sep 2017

After leading U.K. real estate site Rightmove.co.uk raised its listing fees, estate agents now pay up to £1,750 ($2,300 U.S.) per month to advertise on the site. There are two lower price tiers: an ‘essential’ package for £1,000 per month, and an ‘enhanced’ package for £1,450.

Rightmove’s announcement comes in the week that saw Agents’ Mutual members vote “yes” to OnTheMarket.com listing on the London Stock Exchange and the Zoopla Group (ZPG) buy comparison site Money.co.uk. Maybe Rightmove thought this was a good time to bury bad news. But, agents found the time, in between watching the Agents’ Mutual result and discussing Zoopla, to respond to the fee increase.

Property Industry Eye (PIE) reported that one agent complained his subscription had been hiked from £1,218 per month to £1,700. When PIE asked Rightmove for comment, the spokesperson declined to comment on individual agent’s costs, but said that agents joining the site faced higher fees and that, “where new advertising rates apply, full details are being communicated to each of these advertisers on an individual basis”.

Agents responding in the comments section of the article took a dim view of the Rightmove move. Several independent agents volunteered the monthly amounts they were already paying:

  • Single branch independent, and we pay £1500 + VAT. South coast.” – IndAgent
  • £1750 + VAT – optimizer single branch (northwest)” – rdw70
  • “One branch independent, £1035 per month, includes premium listings, logos, and one featured property box. Essex” – Certus
  • 4-office independent, £1,232, including premium listings, logos. Surrey.” – surrey1

As commentator, P-Daddy noted: “Already these replies reveal a differentiation. Yet, Rightmove maintains it doesn’t negotiate anything. They are going to milk the existing members (agents), since they are running out of revenue streams, and have been left standing by Zoopla with their buy-and-build conglomerate.”

The majority of the comments share this view that Rightmove is taking unfair advantage of its position. “Almost all agents” upload 100 percent of their properties to the site, according to a Competition & Market Authority report, and it accounts for about 75 percent of consumer time spent on property sites.

In the company’s H1 report, Rightmove founder and CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson said he wanted to make it, “the site of choice, not only for Britain’s home movers but also its property professionals”. Rightmove has certainly captured the agent market, but a lot of them seem to feel they have little choice in the matter.

True, it is easy to find complaints in the comments section. But even if you disregard them as the grousing of a handful of agents, it’s hard to imagine Rightmove can continue to raise rates indefinitely. Will Britain’s biggest real estate site have to adjust its strategy in the face of Zoopla’s diversification and a cash-infused OnTheMarket? The answer seems, inevitably, yes.

The question is how?

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Cila Warncke

Cila joined AIM Group in 2014 as writer/analyst for Spain. An Anglo-American living in Ibiza, she brings extensive international writing and consulting experience to the role. Educated at University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Glasgow University (MLitt), she has worked for wide range of consumer and B2B publications and companies in Europe and the USA, writing on topics ranging from marketing to travel to music to ultra-marathoning. She uses her writing, research and analytical skills to help clients tell their stories, grow their business, reach new audiences, build loyalty and exploit new media channels. Cila is also an award-winning essayist, creative writer and founder of Creative Writing Ibiza.