Rightmove, Zoopla and even OnTheMarket could make money even if they did not charge agents anything at all to list properties. That’s the view of the head of the Say No To Rightmove campaign, Acorn group chief Rob Sargent.
In an interview with the investment bank Jefferies, notes of which are posted on its website, Sargent makes scathing criticisms of Rightmove in particular but then adds that he believes with growing opportunities in data and advertising a portal could thrive without charging the agent any fee.
Sargent is critical of measuring a portal’s worth by the cost per lead indicator which he alleges Rightmove “bangs us over the head with” - he says it is not particular relevant.
And he adds that the recently added functionality on Rightmove’s site has "little credibility and the industry hates being charged for it".
The latest score that Sargent gives for support for his campaign is that it has some 1,350 to 1,450 owners on board, equal to 2,700 branches. This figure is growing at between 60 and 70 a day, he tells Jefferies.
Acorn’s board has approved formal funding for the campaign and the team now consists of eight full-time staff - four in public relations, three in administration and one arriving shortly to handle technology.
His latest survey of members suggests that 10 per cent of agents who were on Rightmove have left, and 71 per cent are prepared to leave if there is no extension of the 75 per cent fee suspension offered by the portal - after fierce criticism from the industry - to cover the Coronavirus period.
Sargent adds that seven per cent will leave the portal no matter what happens and only two per cent are actually happy with the deal and service they have.
He tells the bank that his campaign is using the four month fees suspension period by Rightmove to build membership, learn agents' issues and decide on how to best deploy the collective power it has created.
However, he insists that the guiding principles remain devolved - it’s up to individual agents to decide on their own form of ‘disruption’ to Rightmove, while Rightmove should understand that agents "won't be bullied by a supplier".