Outspoken online estate agency chief Russell Quirk says the estate agency industry is “really p****d off” with Rightmove trying to ride two different horses in two different directions.
“Customer sentiment toward Rightmove is declining, especially as the company tries to balance making announcements to the City regarding proposed revenue per agent increases, versus justifying agents' subscription value to the agents themselves - two somewhat opposing approaches” says Quirk in an opinion piece he has written and shared with Estate Agent Today.
While he expresses his admiration for the portal for its success to date (“It has achieved God-like status - the term 'Rightmove' is now more searched for via Google than the term 'property for sale' by a ratio of 8:1”) Quirk warns it now faces existential threats.
These include ever-better funded direct rivals ZPG and OnTheMarket, the advance of Facebook, Google, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence threatening to make existing technology outdated, and possible international takeovers by the likes of Zillow and REA from north America. “Be afraid, very afraid” Quirk warns.
Added to the scenario painted by the Emoov founder, there is what he suggests is a complacent attitude by Rightmove. Compared to the expanding ZPG and other rivals, Rightmove has fewer new services and “has become lazy” insists Quirk.
To address such weaknesses, Quirk advocates a six-point programme:
- Reinvent itself - offering options to users that are less conventional (“a three bed semi within a mile of Aylesbury”) and more free-thinking, based on commuter time, character of a property, community demographics and so on.
- Valuation leads - “these are key to showing a value added to agents” says Quirk, who wants RM to create “an outbound call centre that contacts all prospects that express interest in a Rightmove property and then qualify them and book a valuation visit for local agents, selling that lead to them.“
- More consumer-facing software - this would in turn create “customer empowerment and control, a better user experience and at a reduced cost of servicing. If Rightmove aligned itself with such a platform they could 'own' search and software as ZPG are trying to do.”
- Take risks - “No-one ever stayed top of their game by playing safe.”
- New blood - “An injection of fresh ideas and edginess from new people that seek to prevent the complacency of the status quo” avoiding “safe hands that will otherwise ultimately grow tired and drop things by staying in the same position for too long.”
- A charm offensive - “to alter the perception that Rightmove are an arrogant and complacent overlord that looks down upon its customers.”