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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Exclusive: “multiple agents may quit Rightmove” says new group

“Multiple”members of the new trade body, the Federation of Independent Agents, are considering cancelling their subscriptions to Rightmove.

FIA founder Graham Lock has also told Estate Agent Today that some agents in his organisation are now finding alternative ways of generating leads as they plan for life without the portal.

“Rightmove remains an extremely popular portal for home-seekers and agents have clearly been the catalyst for this over the years by sharing their stock. However their position of dominance is staring to hurt the very same agents that enabled such growth by subjecting them to repeated fee increases that are becoming a genuine problem in terms of affordability. It’s sad to think that these agents could soon leave Rightmove not out of choice, but out of necessity” Lock has told EAT.

One FIA member - Steven Andrea, managing director of Fuchsia Homes in Ruislip - says: “I decided enough was enough, I was tired of being forced into regular price increases but more than that I’ve reallocated my Rightmove budget and am now growing my marketshare and selling more properties than ever before.”

He adds: “Leaving Rightmove has actually helped my business and I have no regrets. I have simply found better ways to generate leads and sell homes and with the support of the FIA I’m very happy with the direction of travel for my business, we’re now expanding our branch footprint.”

Lock says that one way to win support amongst agent members, and avoid an exodus, would be to regard the FIA in the same way as Rightmove regards a corporate or franchise. 

“Many FIA agents would consider staying on the portal but at the current rate of price increases, some will leave. I could help Rightmove to retain them but it needs to be a collaborative approach that’s commercially viable. The FIA already represents a significant number of branches and the network is growing to a size that will be comparable to a corporate or franchise network, in the future perhaps even bigger” claims Lock. 

“I can only assume that discounts and group deals are available for these types and sizes of organisations, therefore FIA member agents could enjoy improved commercial terms and in doing so Rightmove will stand a much better chance of retaining those members. The longer it goes on without a solution the higher the risk that the same agents will leave Rightmove and find a better way without them.”

Lock says he has concerns about how people classify his organisation but sees this as an opportunity for a win-win outcome.

“I like to think that we’re classification agnostic, is the FIA a franchisor? That would depend on what constitutes a franchisor and who decides that? Even so, I think there are variables and challenges to the definition and how they’re translated. If the definition is that a franchisor is a business that permits the use of it’s brand within allocated territories and allows it’s members/franchisees to access its systems/platforms then I think we would certainly enjoy franchisor status in this case” he says.

“Subsequently I have offered and continue to offer Rightmove the opportunity to explore a collaborative commercial solution not just to benefit FIA members but one that helps Rightmove to retain them.”

The FIA was set up by Lock earlier this year and aims to leverage the economies of scale of a large number of independents combined, in order to secure PropTech and other services at a price and quality previously reserved for large high-spending corporates.

The FIA consists of what Lock calls ”non-competing, high-calibre independent estate agents who are invited to join based on their dedication to customer service, professionalism and are ambitious in their thinking.

The federation accepts only one agency per area into membership, and charges agents £295 plus VAT per branch per month.

  • Andrew Stanton Estate Agency Insights Strategies

    Rightmove may well be out of step and be seen as the Wrongmove.

    There is definitely dissent being muttered by many of my clients, with many agents grumbling about the way Rightmove is treating them, and some commentators have actually used the term abusive when describing their relationship with the portal.

    This seems a harsh term but looking more closely - the real possible abuse that is arguably at play, is the fact that Rightmove possibly 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 three-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.

    If you look at other countries, agents do list against self-listing vendors on main portals it is just that at present the UK does not.

    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.

    So, maybe the real battlefield is not the annual rise in subscription to Rightmove and their 60% profits each year, it is making sure that your agency is adopting the new wave of proptech tools and systems to future proof your business.

    Yes, Rightmove is causing a chill out there and agents are cooling towards them, but there may well be a far colder arctic winter coming for agencies who wait too long to prospect the new way of doing business.

    Which will be high levels of face to face service backed by technology which allows an omni-channel service to the ever demanding general public, who are turning their backs in droves on businesses based on old trading models rooted in the last century.

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    If agents had any sense, they'd just cancel ALL rightmove BOLT-ONS and that would take them out pretty quick.... doh. That's where their profit comes from and most of the bolt ons are a waste of money anyway. Wake up.

    PS...£295 plus VAT per branch per month? per year surely.

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    We are members of the FIA and are one of the ones considering leaving. We had a very long discussion with RM yesterday where I asked how they can justify a 14% increase, in a shrinking market when I've had no account manager this year (despite repeated requests for one) and leads are down? The answer is, we are on the basic package and that's how much our fee is going up.

    I have tried repeatedly to escalate my concerns regarding fees, both now and earlier this year and can get no one to talk to me. It's this arrogance that I'm finding especially frustrating, they have lost my customer loyalty which is sad.

    Given that I'm quite vocal about my thoughts that the days of the portals are numbered anyway now is not the time for Rightmove to continue this practice of forcing fee increases onto small independent agents

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    Liz,
    We are not on a basic package and our core rate is about to go up 20% so that is BS they are feeding you.
    We have not had confirmation of the increases for the other branches (don't know why) but are going to drop all add ons and see when the next rise is if we come off completely.

     
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    'May', 'Could', let's add another here, 'Won't'.

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    Isn't this just another OnTheMarket type attempted coup? where several agents said they were leaving but then stayed with Rightmove? If you're going to do it - DO IT! Don't just talk about it and then chicken out!!!

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    Left RM in March and business is perfect without. RM is a form of "Ransomware" that we will not be held to.

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    I quit Rightmove in September this year simply because I get most my enquiries through OTM I took an offer form Zoopla for sales and lettings and that has saved my office £1200 per month, I now have a agreement with another local agent that only lists all sales on Rightmove, we both sign all vendor properties on a joint agency agreement and split the commission/fee 50-50 the benefit to the vendor is that they have two agents working for them x2 social media x2 agents websites and all 3 portals. We are monitoring the results but we feel very strong about dumping RM. The main problem in our area is that the large agents wont drop RM and use this against us in competition on appointments so our shared agency works better for us until everyone wakes up and smell the coffee.

  • Marcus Parkinson

    Maybe Rightmove isn't the problem - maybe it's the gullible that feed the "monster" increasing amounts … begrudgingly, but never doing anything about it! This is our anniversary of leaving and trust me it's nice to think that the savings are well into five figures and business is just the same.
    Be bold agents if you carry on waiting for others to make the leap first with double digit rises twice a year the competition will soon become which agent reaches for the Windolene first!

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    I would be interested in knowing how you have maintained your business levels without RM? unless you are purely a letting agent as its known fact that letting agents don't need RM. Ps we are in the Northeast..

     
    Marcus Parkinson

    Hi Hit man in fairness to you we are 75% rentals to 25% sales so I do understand that an agent with a higher sales focus may view it differently.
    Having said that this argument has been unfolding for many years and the fact is that Rightmoves stated aim is too raise fees to more than double where it is now and short of a mass exodus that is exactly what they are going to do - the fact that they lost between 3 & 5 %of agents on there latest figures says to me that process has started.
    If you can afford and are prepared to pay £2500 per branch per month just go with it - if you can't or are not prepared to then your ONLY choice is to move out into the big wide world and make it work minus the huge burden. Don't forget the more people that take the leap and I think Rightmoves next figures will illustrate that this is an on going process, it will simply mean those who stay will get sharper and harder rises in the future. We tell people where we advertise and that we find they work better for us and its more of a non issue than you thing.
    Guess to sum it up people will find houses no matter where they are advertised and unless your just going to suck it up get out asap and start saving.

     
  • David Gibbs

    Can I ask everyone who commented on this post to advise where in the UK they are based. I am in SE London and pay nearly 3k a month for RM. £1,240 is core sales membership and £875.00 for Lettings Core membership. They 'Discount' this to zero, but with all the bolt ons. comes to £2,382 + VAT a month. I think we should should all share like me what we pay for, so we have more ammunition to either get discounts for the rates we are on if there are other companies paying more or less. I am single branch independent. I am investing and have been for a while on other prop tech ideas and systems, so it has been on my mind to reduce my RM package at some point, or even do away with it, as some people here have already done. Be interested to hear from you guys.

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    in the Northeast the RM fees are £895 + vat for sales only and £600 + vat for lettings only dont need RM for lettings OTM gives you enough. RM basic Sales and Lettings package is £1125 = Vat

     
  • David Gibbs

    RE the use for websites, it is all different depending on the regions you are in. I would say 90% of our buyer leads come Rightmove. 8% Zoopla and 2% if that from OTM. Lettings leads 50% Zoopla, 35% Rightmove and 15% OTM. OTM for ME is a waste of time and money, but I am tied in. Looking at some of the comments it appears OTM up North works well, so it's horses for courses.

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    David you have to promote it more, every email enquiry I get from RM or Z, I reply with “ thank you for your enquiry an agent will contact you soon” followed with, you can view all our properties with OTM at least 48 hours before anywhere on the Internet, please follow the link. Then past the link to your properties OTM, also every call tell your customers that OTM is the place to look and register them for alerts. Believe me it works.

     
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    Increased prices with slower market.. RM days are numbered

  • Matthew Payne

    Everyone's views are understandably influenced by the RM rate they are paying and whether they feel that is good value or not. A cooperative approach is the only way to tackle these price rises for independents anytime soon, which is effectively all the corporates have done. 600 branches, 800 branches carry a lot of negotiating muscle and they use it. RM won’t care about losing a handful of smaller agents who protest, and if anything, that adds fuel to the fire as they hike their prices even more the following year to those that are left to compensate.

    Rightmove has created this monster but not because of expense alone, but due to a very inconsistent and perverse charging model applied very differently to small independent and large corporate agents along with the fear factor its historic dominance has allowed them to create, that it is a necessity in your businesses if you want to succeed.

    A 1 branch independent agent is paying as much as 11 times more per branch than the biggest agents after they have had their corporate discount applied which they can also fix for 3 years, so the largest agents can choose to invest the saving in other marketing campaigns that generate them better quality leads from elsewhere, hence they are never critical of what it costs. (I know what they charged me as an independent and then when we became part of a corporate) Further, the rates quoted to the smallest agencies are so inconsistent, some might think RM is charging whatever they think they can get away with, as the fear with the smaller agents as with newspaper advertising 15 years ago, is RM is something they cannot manage without, and will destroy their business if they don’t have it. The more fear RM smell at each review meeting, the more expensive it gets. Ever wondered why they don't have a rate card and always want to agree new terms in a meeting?

    So, food for thought when you consider whether it’s worth the risk to leave…

    Firstly, the world isn't dependent on any portals property or otherwise anymore or has a loyalty to any particular app or website and clearly Zoopla has woken up to that. Apple, Google and others have made it so easy for us not to need to. The high tech has moved on monumentally in the last 5 years let alone the last 19. Google is only 2 years older than RM but look at how much it does now, how advanced it has become. When I look for property or anything for that matter I use Google, Siri if I’m out and about, not any particular portal and I get to see all of what I am looking for wherever it is listed, whatever website, and more people are doing the same. I used to go on particular sites, but search engine reliability has improved so much, and it is so much quicker. It’s a similar challenge for Amazon, I used to go there as my default, but I now trust Google to send me to the right places, give me the best choices, and I don’t shop on Amazon half as much as I used to, because in fact it’s not the cheapest place or has the best products all the time as they like RM would have you believe.

    Secondly, independently, if you are developing your own customer capture and engagement strategy at a local level in your communities and more broadly digitally with search engines always in mind, you can service the public to a large extent yourselves anyway, now that some (not all) of the Proptech that is out there has been road tested, improved and works. A combination of these means you will be able get in front of customers without dependence on RM, and perhaps that is what a lot of commentators here are finding. If you are already on Zoopla or OTM your properties will be easily found out there and on your own site, and a minimum £3000 a month saving for a small agency gives them a lot of options to do other things.

    Thirdly, consider the digital generations. My teenage kids don't use PCs anymore or type unless forced to, that's not even a cultural necessity for young people now to search for stuff they want to find, it’s all voice driven, Siri & Google Home. They don't know any different, they look at me with my laptop, typing away, sending emails manually, using the telephone like I'm some dinosaur. They run their lives front to back digitally through Google, Snapchat, Insta and YouTube. That’s it. No text messages, no browsers, no apps, no phone calls, no emails, no print media. They are your customers in about 5 years’ time, some older ones already are, are you ready for them? I note that most agents don’t have Insta or Snapchat accounts, some are not yet even on Facebook, or they are but never post anything, so maybe not.

    Soon will be the glasses with a heads-up virtual display in front of your eyes walking down the street, it’s not long. Apps have become passe already, who uses them, websites are mobile optimised, I’ve deleted most of mine? Thought tech is already here in the new F35, that’s next. Think Tony Stark, you will think or request 3 bed houses in Doncaster and they will appear in front of you in the middle of your kitchen for you to pull apart like virtual lego, and it’s not that far fetched. Google will take the lead role no doubt as always. RM was invented at a time when us 40 somethings were young and even we don’t use it anymore like we used to. Unless they have a secret masterplan, a revolutionary game changer about to be announced then they barely have no place in the lives of Gen Y and no chance whatsoever with Gen Z, they simply don’t communicate or operate digitally in a way that RM needs or expects them to. Should precious marketing resources be better spent elsewhere in context of value and relevance?

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