One of the industry’s leading consultants says Rightmove is in a form of abusive relationship with agents, who should consider legal action against it.
Iain White, a leading consultant to many of the country’s most prominent estate agencies, says Rightmove represents an extraordinarily successful and good value-for-money service, being cheaper per office than a typical negotiator and producing leads as a result.
But he says that Rightmove’s dominance means it now has a duty of care towards agents who provide the raw material - the listings - for the portal’s continued success.
And he suggests Rightmove is abusing its near monopoly position through the year-on-year hiking of fees; he also says the way that the portal upsells additional services to extract maximum fees were completely wrong and took advantage of agents in a particularly challenging market.
He says that if the agent headcount in the industry reduced by 25 per cent because of a downturn, the problem facing Rightmove would then be slammed into reverse by the portal in the form of higher fees for the remaining 75 per cent.
White also suggests that if there were to be a legal challenge to Rightmove’s dominance “I personally believe [the portal] would lose.”
White - speaking in a video interview with fellow industry consultant Christopher Watkin, made available exclusively to Estate Agent Today readers - says the way to address Rightmove’s position is not via an alternative like OnTheMarket, which he says is “just another portal.”
He says the principle of trying to disrupt one portal through the creation of another is “flawed” and adds with regards to OTM: “There was an agenda there for a few people to make a few quid” which he suggest had believes has undermined its help for agents.
White recognises that in the short term there is no practical alternative to Rightmove for agents who want maximum exposure of their listings, although he urges them not to spend more than they have to “and don’t buy the bells and whistles”.
In the longer term, White believes agents should look increasingly towards other technology beyond the portal concept: in years to come, he anticipates, new methods of reaching mass audiences will exist via Facebook and PropTech.
Once again the video interview by Christopher Watkin is being made available only to Estate Agent Today: that interview is below and lasts just eight minutes. EAT sends its thanks to Christopher for the opportunity.