There’s been widespread outrage amongst agents at Rightmove’s offer to allow some agents a deferred payment scheme operating for just three months.
It has also prompted a statement from a no-cost portal alternative, One Dome, making a pitch for disenchanted and hard-pressed agents to defect.
The Rightmove incentive, made yesterday morning, sparked immediate condemnation on social media and amongst comments on Estate Agent Today.
“Defer for 3 months? when your pipeline is more decimated? … If zero goes in, zero comes out in 3 months... do they really think this will be over by then? dear oh dear” said one comment.
“This move is clearly not enough Rightmove. It doesn’t matter if they are deferred, business won’t be able to pay! Either help your clients and risk them going bankrupt. Or help them a little and keep most of the client base you can cling onto” said another.
“This is not good enough. It has gone quiet on Rightmove leads already so we are paying out thousands of pounds for nothing and deferring for three or six months is only moving the problem to a later date” said another while another warned the portal: “Talk about a sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound. I have never seen so much disgust amongst Agents. Rightmove will go out o business unless they get a grip of this situation immediately.”
A statement to agents from OnTheMarket criticised the Rightmove offer and said: "The Rightmove deferral option amounts at best to a modest ease on cashflow over coming months but with a corresponding pressure later."
Anger over the perceived inflexibility of the portals has been fuelled by their recent upbeat trading statements.
A few weeks ago Rightmove reported higher revenue and profits - both up eight per cent - with revenues of £289.3m in 2019 and operating profits at £213.7m.
Last week OnTheMarket - in the same announcement as it revealed chief executive Ian Springett had been sacked - boasted that its revenues for the year to the end of January were above the £18m figure it had previously suggested: it declined to comment on any pay-off being made to Springett.
Zoopla is not listed on the London Stock Exchange but its owner - Silver Lake Partners, a US private equity firm specialising in technology investments - bought the ZPG company for £2.2 billion in 2018, and has since then invested heavily in its agency services.
Meanwhile portal group OneDome - which operates OneDome and Nethouseprices - says its products generated 120,000 agent leads last month - and they were free of charge.
OneDome says this equates to an average of 20 leads per month per branch for agencies advertising on both websites; and for agents utilising the full OneDome package, the average number of leads was 103 per branch last month.
A statement from the challenger portal says that as OneDome is a Facebook Marketplace listing partner too, any agent listing with it will appear on Marketplace at no additional cost.
OneDome claims that over 300 new agency branches signed up to its platform in the last 30 days, and adds that new listers can promote their properties across both websites simultaneously.
The portal has an optional profit-share agreement with agents, allowing them to generate revenue by using OneDome's full platform rather than paying for listings as they do with other portals.
"Marketing costs have been increasing at an exponential rate for estate agents in the last 10 years, whereas margins have been squeezed, leaving agents in a difficult situation” explains Babek Ismayil, founder and chief executive of OneDome.
“We aim to provide agents with an alternative marketing channel that not only provides them with free leads, but also a potential opportunity to generate more revenue. We believe more and more agents will join our platform and together, we will build a viable free-to-list alternative to the two major Pay-to-list portals.”