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Rightmove ‘abusing’ agents and should be legally challenged - top consultant

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.

  • Andrew Stanton CEO Proptech-PR    Proptech Real Estate Influencer

    Whilst I respect Iain's viewpoint - the real possible abuse that is arguably at play, is the fact that Rightmove charge agents different amounts, for the same service.

    So a new agent that wants to use Rightmove, pays more than an existing client for the identical service, and though it would seem sensible to discount to a multiple branch enterprise, many agents would be staggered at how little some agents in their town, village or city are paying, when they are paying substantially more for the same service.

    Now Rightmove can use any model they choose - if agents are unhappy - well they can choose not to list on Rightmove, but this economic advantage/disadvantage plays fast and loose with agents who are at present under considerable financial pressures.

    Maybe agents should set up an anonymous forum and post how much they are charged per branch/office and what level of service they are provided, I think this would be enlightening for all. No-one minds paying for a product or service, but some argue that the many customers at Rightmove may be subsidising the minority.

    Personally, I think that within 3 years Zoopla who are re-aligning their model and who are substantially cheaper than Rightmove, may well offer 'self-listing' for the general public. As one of the online property portals jockey for market share and domination.

    Given the cost, I think many agents would 'eat' the fact that they are listing on a site with the 'self-listing' general public, as Zoopla's cost base is much lower than Rightmove. If Rightmove tried to launch this iniative, it would possibly cause a rebellion as agents would not want to pay a premium rate and compete with self-listing vendors.

    Estate agency, and by this I mean the whole property sector - is undergoing a period of change, just as other industries are. New technology is pushing this along and the customer or consumer is king (or queen) once again and they want service at the click of a button. And if enough of them want to market their own homes, because it is easy (obviously I know it is anything but easy) then this sentiment may change things. (E-A-I-S)


    Spot on, Rightmove and Zoopla will have to adapt to survive.

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    If agents were to actually think for a minute, all they need to do is dump their "premium", "bolt" on poor value additions back to the basic membership and spend that on OTM and you'd see rightmove's fat profit go negative overnight. Fools to themselves anyone that uses their premium listings, and other stuff. We don't and it makes no difference at all and in essence we get OTM free. Wake up.


    They're now trying to up the basic package costs even more to close the gap on their premium crud and get us contracted for 2 years with threats of further increases for those not locked in on the "premium" package . We've had enough of it now. Cost per lead is eye watering.

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    Rightmove microsites - seriously, what is the point? Ego? More money than sense? I know of companies on the verge of closing branches and still see their microsites spread across RM. Madness.

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    Does Rightmove subsidize larger agents

    Hunters stated 60% in an interview

    What about Openrent a lettings market disrupter

    Rightmove I guess has to move with the market especially in lettings, who will be the new clients of the future ?

    Housing Associations, Build to Rent subsidised by the exchequer, property investment companies backed by pension funds ?

    Perhaps small landlords and small agents are going going gone.

    Turkeys waiting for Christmas

  • Kristjan Byfield

    It's all about finding a balance and understanding what delivers value to your business. For some RM is an absolute must-have but for others it is a drain on resources that could be better spent elswhere. However RM are their own worst enemies- repetitive 20%+ increases (we have had this 3 years on the trot) with little to no new offerings and shrinking leads is a tough sell. They could learn a lot from the way thye aussie portal has pivoted after obtaining a similar 'necessary evil' reputation.

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    • 22 October 2019 12:26 PM

    Even if self-listing occurred many vendors would still prefer to use an EA.
    There would be a slight reduction in business but not that much.
    Overall most homeowners still prefer to sell via the traditional EA.
    I don't see such sentiments changing that much even if self-listing becomes possible.
    Yes EA are going to have to up their offer to attract vendors but most are endeavouring to do this already.
    Good for vendors who should find traditional EA have far more competitive offers with the competition of self-listing.
    Don't worry chaps you'll still make your commission just perhaps not so much and maybe across more properties having to be sold to garner the same commission currently being achieved across fewer properties.

  • Colin Bain

    Over the years they put lots of agents out of business IMHO. Twice yearly increasing with a take it or leave it attitude is totally abusing their market dominance and should be looked at by MPs.

    And of course the smaller agents are subsidising larger agencies who DO get a discount as they negotiate 3/5 year deals.

    Hated dealing with them...used to avoid their sales team like the plague...


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