Despite a significant fall in agent numbers, the agency business grew marginally and overall figures were helped by strong growth in its new homes business.
Revenue increased to 289.3 million pounds ($373.1 million U.S.), up from 267.8 million pounds in 2018. Pre-tax profit increased to 213.7 million pounds ($275.6 million U.S.) from 198.6 million pounds.
This was achieved through increasing average revenue per advertiser, up 8%, to 1,088 pounds per month, cementing one of Rightmove’s goals of the last two years to reach and exceed the 1,000 pounds per month mark. It also marks an improvement on the ARPA growth of 6% seen the year before.
However, agent numbers fell by 3% in the year from 20,454 to 19,809. Within this figure, agent numbers dipped from 17,328 to 16,347, a 6% decrease. The remainder are new home developments from developers. Half-year figures showed agent numbers down to 16,768, indicating that the fall in agent numbers has decreased slightly in the second half of 2019.
Rightmove said the fall in agent numbers came from mainly smaller branches affected by tighter trading conditions and cash flow issues.
Its new homes business grew over the same period, up from 3,126 at the end of 2018, to 3,441 in June, and then a small increase to 3,462 at the end of 2019, an 11% annual increase.
Despite the fall in agent numbers, the agency business, Rightmove’s largest, grew by 8.3 million pounds to 209.3 million pounds, driven by upgrades to product packages.
Housebuilders put more of their stock on Rightmove’s platform and spent more on digital advertising, leading to revenue growth of 9.3 million pounds year-on-year to 55.5 million pounds, up 20% from 46.2 million pounds in 2018.
Looking ahead, Rightmove expects the business to continue to grow in the U.K., helped by post-election stability that has led to an “optimistic” start to 2020, where pent-up demand for moving home is leading to more sellers marketing property and more buyers looking.
It said January was its busiest month ever in terms of traffic with over 152 million visits to its site. This has continued in February, Rightmove said, when it recorded its five busiest days ever.
However, Rightmove expects this to take time to feed through to smaller agencies, so it expects agent numbers to continue to fall in the short term.
The results mean shareholders benefit from a 10% increase in its dividend to 4.4 pence per share. Rightmove’s share price fell 6% on the news in early trading in London.
“Rightmove’s purpose is to make home moving easier in the UK and the public once again moved with Rightmove in 2019, the ninth year in a row more people searched on Google for Rightmove than for property,” said Rightmove CEO, Peter Brooks-Johnson.