Property industry commentator and former online agency chief executive Russell Quirk has defended Rightmove’s charges to agents, saying that compared to alternatives such as newspapers, the dominant portal represents good value.
He is critical of the scale of Rightmove’s annual increases of 25 per cent or even more, but he insists it remains an invaluable tool for agents, represents good value and is understandably keen to keep its charges high because it is a listed company “and so is thinking much more of shareholder value than estate agency value.”
In the latest of a series of video interviews with industry consultant Chris Watkin, Quirk says: “When you compare [Rightmove] with the cost of local papers … compared with the volume of enquiries that Rightmove will provide and the analytics that go with it … Rightmove is relatively good value compared to the alternatives.”
However, his concerns over Rightmove’s price rises is that they are often justified by the portal itself on the basis of the growing number of leads that it provides; but, says Quirk, if it produces fewer leads one year than previously, it will not reduce charges.
The former Emoov boss is also critical of agents who have used the trade press to criticise Rightmove, urging boycotts or similar stunts.
In addition to the business risk of losing leads by dropping off Rightmove, Quirk says in characteristically colourful language that agents would encounter another problem very quickly: “Mr Vendor, Mrs Vendor, Ms Vendor will phone you in seconds saying Why Isn’t My House On Rightmove? … Rightmove has got people by the bollocks.”
On other portals Quirk says Zoopla represents better value than Rightmove because it’s cheaper and he praises its ‘horizontal’ activities, spreading out to be more consumer-focussed by taking over, for example, utility comparison websites.
He then says OnTheMarket’s IPO was “not a success” and described as “outrageous” the way some original agency members are tied to the one other portal rule while newer members are not. He adds that in his opinion it will not match the two main portals “and will always be ‘the third portal’.”
“[OTM] will never have the money to compete on a level playing field with Rightmove or Zoopla” he claims.
As with all of Quirk’s video interviews with Chris Watkins, there are compelling moments and surprise insights into Emoov. This latest video, majoring on portals, is available below.