The two major portals have unveiled their discounts and deals for agents facing a dramatic loss of business because of the Coronavirus.
In a surprise announcement this morning, Rightmove revealed it would slash its charges to agents by 75 per cent for four months.
The portal has also apologised for getting it so badly wrong with its deferred payment scheme, which was derided by customers - many of which left the portal in disgust this week.
A statement from Rightmove to agents says: “I don’t think many of us would have predicted sitting in our offices last week that we’d be where we are today, with the possibility of more restrictive measures approaching. Earlier this week we offered our independent estate and lettings agents a deferred payment scheme to help them through the next few months. The situation in the UK has changed rapidly and we’re sorry that it was too little and now inappropriate for the challenges we all face.
“Instead of offering the deferred payment scheme to independent estate and lettings agents, we're going to reduce your Rightmove bill by 75% for four months, starting from 1st April whether you advertise residential properties, new homes or commercial premises. You don’t need to apply for this discount, your invoice will automatically come through reduced by 75%. To be clear, this is not a deferred payment, this is a discount that you don’t need to pay back.
“Our CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson wants to say a few words as well. ‘I can only apologise that we didn’t move fast enough and do enough, especially given where the UK is now. Agents and developers are now having to make really difficult decisions to keep their business going and to plan for the coming months. We can’t predict the future but we know from events in the past that the market will come back, and there’s still a lot of activity on Rightmove. I can assure you that in the coming months we will be throwing our weight behind initiatives to help encourage market activity. In the meantime, I hope giving you 75% discount on your bill for the next four months from April will help and will ease some of the pressure you’re under.’”
Rightmove's formal announcement to shareholders was issued this morning as well and here it is in full:
The speed of the slowdown in the UK housing market has been significant. Notably the number of property transactions failing to complete in recent days and likely changes in tenant behaviour following the announcement of the renters' protections by the government may put further pressure on estate and lettings agents.
Although the likely duration of these market conditions is unclear, given this sudden challenge for customers Rightmove has chosen to offer more substantial assistance to support their businesses. This follows extensive dialogue we have had with many of them. We also firmly believe this rapid action is in the long term interests of our shareholders.
In recognition of the unprecedented environment we will today be contacting all our Agency, New Homes and Commercial customers to let them know that from April we will be discounting their invoices by 75% for the next four months, superseding our deferred payment offer.
The financial impact of these actions over the next four months will result in a reduction in revenue of £65m to £75m for the financial year ended 31 December 2020. The Board believes it is important to act quickly and we are able to implement this initiative given the strength of our balance sheet.
During this difficult time we will continue to innovate to make home moving easy for customers and home movers for our long term growth.
Peter Brooks-Johnson, CEO, commented:
“At Rightmove we are doing everything in our power to rise to the challenges of COVID-19.We have chosen to utilise our position to support our customers at this difficult time.”
Meanwhile Zoopla has announced two new fee structures available to agencies.
The portal’s statement this morning, released an hour after Rightmove's offer, says:
Option 1: Nine months of Zoopla for free
With this option, Zoopla offers nine months of portal usage entirely free, returning to normal fee levels thereafter, as part of an 18 month contract that follows the free term.
This is designed to support agents who recognise the benefits of establishing a long-term partnership with Zoopla, and who make a commitment to leave Rightmove once their current contract comes to an end.
Option 2: Three (to five) months of Zoopla for free
With this option, Zoopla offers three months of portal usage entirely free, returning to normal fee levels thereafter, as part of an 18 month contract that follows the free term. There is scope for the three month free term to be extended by a further two months, depending on whether the government limitations to control coronavirus have been lifted.
After the free period, agents will return to normal fee levels.
For both agreements, price increases will not exceed the RPI for the duration of the contract.
Agents are able to sign up to either deal up until the end of April 2020, with the new terms to take effect from May 1”