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Rightmove no worse than many other suppliers says ex-Purplebricks boss

One of Britain’s most experienced estate agents says there’s no alternative to Rightmove, and the portal’s relationship with the industry is not worse in principle than any other supplier in a strong position.

Lee Wainwright - former chief executive of Purplebricks UK and a former managing director of 116 Bairstow Eves and Mann & Co offices for Countrywide in London - admits that Rightmove has few friends at any level of the industry. 

But he says the portal has won the consumer’s expectation for their property to be featured on it when it goes on sale or for rent - “there is no alternative … there is no choice” he says. 


However, he dismisses suggestions that Rightmove’s relationship with agents is like that of the controlling partner in an abusive relationship.

“Was it any different in the 90s with newspapers and advertising rates? Was it any different in terms of the relationship that any supplier has ever had with any estate agent when they say they want to put their prices up?” Wainwright asks industry consultant in a video interview made available exclusively to Estate Agent Today.

Wainwright - now chief executive of floorplan and photography supplier FocalAgent - admits however that he could see why some agents feel excessive increases in charges by Rightmove do not match up with what some people believe to be the quality of the product in return.

The video is short - well under three minutes - but sheds light on what the big corporates think of Rightmove.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Regarding the assertion Rightmove - there is no alternative there is no choice and it is a consumer led proposition, I do not think this to be the case. Also, though Rightmove has enjoyed a dominant position for a long time, at grass root level, the relationship between agent and property portal is becoming increasingly fractious and disconnected.

    Anecdotally, and I meet hundreds of agents, everyone feels that Rightmove is expensive, and that year on year increases which see a massive profit margin for the portal, give very little return to the client agent. And the noise if becoming louder.

    The Achilles heel for Rightmove, is that the vendor and buyer do not demand that they see their home listed for sale on Rightmove. It is agents who 'fight it out' on the listing battlefield who present the proposition that an agent without Rightmove is not a credible agent.

    Many agents realising this, are developing both their brand and their marketing around social media, putting funding into this arena. Not only does it differentiate the agent, unlike Rightmove which makes all agents equal, in the sense that agents brands are stripped away, replaced by tiny digital property adds, neatly stacked by price and postcode across a vast digital platform - it actually drives business directly to the agent.

    Social media is in it's infancy in the real estate sector in the UK, yes some agents post on the various social media sites, but when CRM's come of age and it is an integrated part of their functionality, I think that the day's of Rightmove supremacy will be numbered. Because, Generation-Z, as a consumer is both relentless and fickle.

    Just because agents in the sitting room of prospective vendors properties have been conditioned and may feel that Rightmove is a must have, and an agent without it is a weak agent. Generation-Z is probably going to be looking for their next home on Tik Tok or some other social media platform, oblivious to the 'way mum and dad or older siblings used to go about searching for property'.

    Take a look around the globe, America, Australia etc, property portals yes, but personal service and brand built upon social media is becoming increasingly more relevant. After all consumers do all of their business on their phone, as an influencer in the proptech and real estate sector, 90% of my business comes from Linkedin, five years ago it would have been 20%.

    Rightmove will only continue to be 'the property brand' as long as agents do not develop their own property brands, and a key strategy I would suggest is not to pay even more money to them for enhanced awareness of their site, put that money into social media, it grows brands it grows businesses.

    And there are also number of new contenders in the property portal space such as PropertyHeads, headed up by visionary Ben Davis, which has more functionality and is based on a social media and multi-function concept.

    As well as OpenBrix - CEO Adam Pigott - whose portal is built on the blockchain to decentralise the control, and cannot raise prices that is not agreed upon by the majority of the members on the site - so a completely inclusive listening approach.


    The article/video is the perspective of a large corporate agent - and they "enjoy" a very different relationship with Rightmove than the majority of readers here. It's right about one thing though, a Rightmove boycott will NEVER happen. Moreover, it is almost impossible for a number 2 or 3 portal with the SAME business model to usurp the market leader (based on evidence from dozens of markets around the world). So where does that leave us all?....

    Andrew is on to something, the "solution" will almost certainly come in the form of proptech and social media. But lets focus on portals. For the first time ever, there are a handful of new zero (or sometimes very low) cost contenders, with access to capital, and business models that stand up without taking down the agents trousers. Some of these portals even strive to help the agent grow their own brand and or provide revenue opportunities.

    Why not get your agency/properties on ALL these platforms? And let the entrepreneurs that run these businesses focus on growing their consumer audiences.

    Yes I'm talking about our own PropertyHeads, but also Openbrix, Onedome, Residential People and any others I might have forgotten. I'd love to know what's stopping you - call me 0203 205 7266 (there won't be any up sell, but I won't be giving out free calendars either!).

  • Murray Lee

    Just had my latest advice of increase £160 PM 13% jump plus VAT

    No added value.....No words

  • Chris Arnold

    Don't build your home on other people's land is worth remembering. The portals offer reach, where reach isn't required. They exist and thrive because of an agency's inability to create their own platform.
    Own the media in your patch. Either through podcast, video, blog, free newspaper, books, ebooks, etc. and build your audience.
    Owned media becomes a business asset rather than a liability & the agency has full editorial control.
    There's argument for using portals, but not a strong one.

  • Adam Pigott

    OpenBrix is the first portal built on blockchain and is running live trials with a number of agents in the UK. Why blockchain? The tech guarantees a decentralised and democratised portal that allows the community of agents to control the data and prevents price hikes without a majority share of the community agreeing to it. It is a low cost subscription model with unlimited listings. Add this together with unrivalled benefits to the end users, great integration with CRMs and partners allowing a total open source policy - OpenBrix is bringing a new generation of portal to the market.
    Rightmove have a very powerful product but it is shareholder led. OTM was supposed to be different but the goal posts were moved and the structure makes it Rightmove 2.0. OpenBrix is built in such a way it can’t have the goal posts moved, no matter who runs it! It has significant support from independent agents and also a sizeable portion of the corporate agencies. The trial finishes soon. It is then built and it’s up to the agent community to use it! Rightmove will have to adapt or they will start to struggle. There is a huge appetite from agents to massively reduce the monthly burn on their portal costs, and OpenBrix offers a final solution to this!


    Nice ad.

  • icon

    Lost me at 'One of Britain’s most experienced estate agents'.


    He did run Bairstow Eves for many years - starting at Neg - so he has seen his fair share of battles

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Rightmove makes huge profits because they are a tech company, and whilst they have a minimal cash burn on new development, their core product, the listing of property is not an ever-increasing cost.

    Like many such companies, a product or service is developed, and it catches on, and the cost to roll it out to new clients becomes relatively minimal after the initial start-up phase of the business where usually there is a multi-million-pound investment to produce the winning model.

    As a maturing business it is clear that because it holds a monopoly situation, it can adopt a pricing policy that it chooses, with some agents paying far more for an identical service, which means they subsidise others. Also, online agents who cover vast swathes of the UK probably have a pricing plan very different to that of an agency with 200 offices in the high street.

    What underpins the Rightmove model and is its strength and weakness is that it is the continued patronage of the agents. The problem for Rightmove is that if agents become a disillusioned collective who feel they have been paying through the nose, and in fact have been subsidising perhaps corporates or online agents, then a very dangerous schism may appear.

    I am not suggesting this is the case, and perhaps as this debacle grows there may be more transparency, but, the day of reckoning is coming, because the new generation of proptech solutions might in a single leap make the provision of a digital shop window on the internet at a unit cost of £1,200 plus a month to be a costly nice to have.

    Rather than the cosy core essential that is ‘exceptional value for money’ it may well be for the present, but not if you are subsidising the rival agent next door to you.

  • icon

    We've just had a 25% increase in our R/M monthly costs (yes that's around 10 times current inflation levels) ........oh ...but on the plus side.......they'll now put our logo on my properties for "free".....you couldn't make it up.......


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