“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.