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Rightmove: might it become an estate agency with sellers listing directly?

Another senior industry analyst says the time is fast approaching for Rightmove to either shift its focus to take account of new digital and consumer activities, or risk being outpaced by rival organisations such as Purplebricks.

Lee Layton, associate director in the residential research side of property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, says Rightmove is remarkably strong now but faces a stark choice in as little as two years' time - reform or fade away.

Layton argues that the existing major portals benefit from the fragmented agency marketplace and the fact that Rightmove and Zoopla in particular are so dominant, new entrants to the portal sector find it difficult to compete.

But he then says that the digital stars are realigning and some players may now grow to become "a new consolidated agent marketplace" - effectively moving on to the same territory that Rightmove itself now occupies. 

"So, will Rightmove sleepwalk into a slow decline, or will they take the bull by the horns and change the way we sell. I’m putting my money on the latter" he says.

Layton suggests that last year's low-key acquisition by Rightmove of the digital start-up The Outside View may be a sign that Rightmove now has its sights set on changing the way consumers behave - or at least knowing more about why they move, when and how. 

The Outside View operates on what it calls "predictive analytics" - a breakdown of patterns of past activity that can be used to forecast what people will do in the future. The Outside View uses this science to analyse historic house moving data to forecast future demand - in quite some detail, including when people may buy, where and what.

Layton argues that at the moment the value of this kind of information to Rightmove is possibly zero - but it could be hugely valuable if Rightmove were to become an estate agency in its own right.

"Whilst merging the portal/agent role and allowing sellers to list their property directly would be a seismic shift in business model, it is well within Rightmove’s capabilities due to their huge databank, unique position within the market and bulging bank balance" Layton suggests. 

"The move would eliminate the aforementioned risk and also open up a huge array of associated business opportunities that only dealing directly with buyers and sellers would provide" he adds. 

It's a fascinating analysis of what might happen - you can see Lee Layton's full blog here.

In recent weeks, PropTech experts Eddie Holmes and James Dearsley have also suggested Rightmove may have to consider new directions to secure its long term future, despite its short term dominance.

  • Trevor Mealham

    Why would Rightmove want to be an agent. If it did it then opens up to all the legislation of CPRs and BPRs and AML and potential fines.

    It would also alienate agent subscribers.

    To even take a stake in a budget agency would be foolish and compromise a vested interest in its agent users.

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    I recently had a chat with someone who owns a few agencies. He had been interviewing for a junior position most of the candidates where under the age of 20. One of the first questions he asked was name the 3 biggest property portals? 40% of the people who answered said Right-move, Zoopla and purple bricks.

    I was shocked by this but he swears its true, I would not be surprised at all if Right-move felt they needed to change to keep going.

  • icon

    Only a matter of time before Rightmove becomes an estate agent itself

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