One of the property portal sector’s leading analysts is suggesting that Rightmove may be about to increasingly involve itself with services to help the day-to-day management estate agencies - and make itself increasingly indispensable in the process.
The comments are all the more interesting because they come from Antony Codling of Jefferies - the City consultancy that advises Zoopla - who says that ”Rightmove operates the most robust business model we have ever seen.”
In addition to Rightmove’s record visits, leads and profits - reported here last week - Codling writes to his investor clients that Rightmove “is increasingly seen as integral to the operations of its clients.”
This is not only because vendors increasingly expect to see their properties listed on Rightmove but also because of what Codling calls “embedded value.”
He says there has been “an interesting nuance” from Rightmove recently, with it building on being essential to buyers and sellers and now “cementing links with the agent’s back office and IT systems” - something he tells investors is “a clever move.”
Codling claims that while Zoopla may be keeping Rightmove honest in terms of having to service buyers and sellers “if Rightmove is running the agent’s back office, the agent may have less negotiating power than they believe to be the case.”
The City consultancy also believes that Rightmove has hinted that it could offer some traditional estate agencies services of the type now offered “by the newer-wave more digitally focused agents - which may put the cat among the pigeons.”
The Jefferies note to investors does not give specifics on how Rightmove is seeking to integrate itself further into agency back office activities, but the annual report for 2015 issued last week gives some possibilities.
During 2015 Rightmove expanded its agent seminar programme to total 35 events covering brand building, targeting sellers, and customer service in a digital world. They were attended by over 2,000 agents. Another 2,500 agents participated in webinars.
The annual report also includes these key paragraphs:
“In a recent independent survey 49 per cent of agents said our software was ‘crucial’ to their business and would be hard to switch from, with a further 39 per cent saying it was ‘helpful’. Over 50 per cent of agents also cited that our software makes them more efficient not just in marketing but in other areas of their business too.”
“Our customers have also benefitted from a continuous roll-out of additional advertising products to reach their audience of home sellers, landlords and home hunters. There is a wide range of choice and discretion to shape and reinforce brand identity on Rightmove to compete for business and market homes. There is also an increasing range of valuable tools, support and data available to our customers to assist them to operate their businesses more effectively and efficiently.”
Codling’s note to investors says that unlike Zoopla - which is diversifying into further consumer-focussed products and price comparison services - “[Rightmove] is focused on maintaining its dominant core advantage and defending its position against disrupters and believes that such are the untapped opportunities in the core venturing into adjacent markets is not required.”