Agents’ Mutual accused of ‘scaremongering’ by Rightmove over private listings

A row has broken out between Rightmove and Agents’ Mutual, which is due to launch its OnTheMarket portal in just over three months’ time.

Ed Mead, a director of Agents’ Mutual, said that it was “surely only a matter of time” before Rightmove introduces private listings to compete against its own agents.

But Rightmove hit back furiously, calling the claim “utter rubbish” and “unprofessional scaremongering”.

Rightmove already accepts private listings on its overseas site.

Mead said the portal could be using this as a testing ground for the UK.

Mead, director of London agent Douglas & Gordon, said: “Rightmove’s push for private listings gathers pace, it seems, and although it’s supposedly only overseas ones at the moment, surely it’s only a matter of time before they COULD do it in the UK?

“If independent agents want the clearest view of the future they face as customers of the UK’s largest portal, they should take a look at the Rightmove Overseas section.

“A link from the Rightmove homepage invites users to ‘Sell Overseas Property’ and they are taken to a page offering a structured tariff for private listing including Silver, Gold and Platinum options.

“The prospective Rightmove private seller can access online ‘chat’ support and the process begins by signing an e-contract.

“Rightmove promises their property can be displayed on its portal within 48 hours.”

Mead said that the reasons offered to overseas private sellers to use Rightmove “would seem interchangeable with a UK marketing drive”.

He said the reasons given to private sellers to use the portal include Rightmove’s popularity, traffic numbers, and trustworthy reputation; the ability for consumers to manage their property sale online 24 hours a day; no commission to pay;  and unique services such as seller protection and email campaigns.

Mead said: “Rightmove has introduced this stealthily but is now pushing it hard.

“They seem to have conveniently sidestepped their position as stated on the UK part of the portal, which recommends the use of a full service agent.

“It states that ‘in order to give buyers and sellers the best possible protection and service, Rightmove does not accept property advertisements from private sellers or private landlords’.

“Their decision to mix the listings of internet-only ‘agents’ with those of full-service local estate and lettings agents shows that Rightmove is quite prepared to act against the interests of its main customer base to chase extra profit, which now seems to be their main driver.

“Private listing on their Overseas section is a great testing ground for Rightmove to prepare its direct approach for vendors and landlords in the UK.

“Having reached a dominant position with the support of independent agents, it seems inevitable that it will sooner or later begin to compete with them.”

Mead concluded: “Of course our OnTheMarket.com website from Agents’ Mutual is designed to defend against this, and IF there are any agents out there who don’t believe Rightmove would ever do this, I’d urge them to think again.”

A spokesperson for Rightmove told Eye: “The insinuation that Rightmove is going to allow private listings is utter rubbish and unprofessional scaremongering.

“Rightmove Overseas offering this service is old news. This has been happening since 2008.”

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43 Comments

  1. Trevor Gillham

    They will probably kick him off for saying that then double his fee, best thing I ever did was leave that site, you never know if you will be in business the next day. No customer commitment whatsoever.

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    1. Trevor Gillham

      Just noticed I've got 'Comment of the week'. Made my day.

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  2. RussellQuirk

    Another day, another story predicated around the growing threat of online agents to the estate agency establishment.

    This debate is not about service as Ed tries yet again to contend. If it is, then as I've demonstrated many times, next generation consumer friendly agents like my own emoov.co.uk are head and shoulders above high street standards.

    This debate and the related disgruntled approach by the traditional industry, is about FEE.

    Online agents charge less for the same (if not better) outcome. And, simply, this Amazonification of the sector is what's scaring the old school witless.

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    1. Robin

      As I have said before, OnLine agency is nothing like Amazon or other online shops – Amazon and their like deliver on every order and you know when you pay your money you are going to get the goods. You can even return them and get your money back. OnLine agency charges upfront with only a possibility of delivering the result the customer wants – the sale. It's a gamble. That possibility of success may be a good one in an active market, but sellers will get disillusioned very quickly as their money disappears and they get nothing for it except hope. Much more like backing a horse than buying from Amazon.

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    2. dave_d

      2% market share… we're quaking in our boots

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    3. Sally Jones

      I disagree totally, we receive a significant number of clients who have first tried to sell their property using an on-line agent and they have been appalled at the service and fee structure. Estate agency is about a complete package and that means valuing a property in person, a competitive fee structure, regular communication with clients and the ability to offer accompanied viewings and the updating of photos. Very few (if any) on-line agents offer all of these services. At The Purple Property Shop we do plus a host of other services including fortnightly reports to clients on their property. A blanket criticism of high street agents relating to standards is more a reflection of an on-line agent recognizing that clients still value face-to-face management of the marketing and sale of their property.

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      1. RealAgent

        Of course they do Sally which is why there has been comparatively little shift to an online only model and almost all of that can be attributed to the amount of money they are spending in advertising presently. What is becoming more and more evident is that there is only room for one proper national player in this small percentage of the market and Russell Quirks firm isn't it. That I suspect is why he is on here, agent bashing again, it's probably helps him avoid thinking about the inevitable.

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  3. Trevor Mealham

    Proper agents can make sellers more by networking properties out to larger buyer pools via subbing. The higher fee means the odds of bringing more offerers to the table increases. Budget agents dont have the extra funds to allow commission spliting. As such low cost agents can't provide the best service so consumers suffer. ………..Any budget agent who claims the can save clients thousands are talking out of their backside.

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  4. Trevor Mealham

    As for RM and Z private sellers are using allowed budget marketeers to already get in at low costs. Budget agent operatives are simply RM and Z's way of being at arms length from getting their hands dirty………..Im sure if the headlines said either now lets FSBO in direct that some agents would be stupid enough to still put funds in

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  5. PropertyManagement

    This is no different from the talk around Tesco possibly setting up an agency in the past. I can see no benefit to RM setting up a private sale part to their business, purely because of the ramifications with their current clients. RM do not hide behind the fact they let anybody who offers an EA service to advertise on their portal, nor do they support online agents in attacking traditional agents. They do not sit in any of the camps.

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  6. CP

    On Agents Mutual – I've rang two local agents, posing as a seller, who I know for certain have joined AM. I said I'd read in the press that AM members would have to drop or RM or Z from Jan 1st and asked if that applied to them. ABSOLUTELY NOT was the reply from both the ladies I spoke to – one of them actually said "we would never come off RM or Z that's where we get most of our enquiries from".

    Now – either they were lying through their back teeth or – far more likely IMO – their masters haven't told them about AM. Which begs the question WHY? If that's the case me thinks there are going to be some very bemused, disgruntled and demotivated staff when the AM bombshell is finally dropped. After all, AM savings won't go towards raising staff wages, but will of course be trousered by said masters.

    But, by far the more important party who should be suitably informed about coming off RM or Z, is that person who pays our wages. The client.

    We are now at the 23 September and any AM agent signing up a client on a three month sole agency with 28 days cancellation is effectively taking that client past the 1st Jan launch date (95% of clients think that the sole agency ends after three months – they don't realize that's only if they give 28 days prior notice. Result? Its really a four month sole agency).

    My local AM agents for reasons known only to them are keeping dumb not only to their staff but – far more disingenuously – to their clients. Why? Are they afraid of the reaction?

    They should be. Because every single seller that I spoken to – either via new valuations or those already on the market – are absolutely against and baffled by the reasoning behind their property not being on RM or Z.

    I have recorded the source of every single buyer enquiry received over the past 5 months and 38% of those enquiries have come from Zoopla, Any agent who has/is considering dropping Z because (as I have heard on numerous occasions) it "won't make any difference at all" is talking out of their proverbial.

    So, how many AM agents out there have already explained their decision to drop RM or Z to potential or existing clients? And what was the response?

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    1. PropertyManagement

      Very interesting CP. A number of agents I have met with recently, are firmly on the fence. They are going to stick with the big 2 and watch what happens. This is surely why AM could fail? If too many agents are bystanders, the site will not get the traction it needs to grow.

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      1. CP

        Property Management – both of the agents I refer to are Gold Members. The decision to leave RM or Z has already been made – but not the decision to inform staff or clients ……… what many AM agents fail to understand (or want to understand) is that it won't be AM members, anti-AM agents, fence sitters, RM or Z who decide whether OTM will successful ……… that decision will be made by Joe Public whose opinions via AM market research I bet HAVE HARDLY, IF AT ALL, BEEN CANVASSED OR DISCUSSED …………. that is a potentially disastrous gaping hole in AM's strategy and game plan.

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      2. JungleProperty

        Love the AM concept and really wish them every success but they have made a HUGE mistake on pre-launch marketing to help build the brand. Think back to when big brands like orange first launched with billboards etc. 'The future is bright…' and by the time the services rolled out there was already big awareness of the brand. Not seen a single ad for OTM aimed at Joe P on any media so when I stop the first 10 people I see on 1st January and ask them where they would go to find a property, how many are going to say OTM? That for me is the acid test and whichever is the most popular answer is where I need to be, if that is OTM great but right now I cannot see it happening (who called me an old cynic!?)

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    2. Beano

      The glee with which you write is strange. I have rarely met someone happy to bend over and be treated to a weekly/monthly proverbial slap as you seem… By putting rm and z on this pedestal and carrying out your own private detective work you are playing into their hands of abusing their near monopoly. Good luck.

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      1. CP

        Beano, I've been in marketing for 30 years and advertised in every medium from lineage ads in newspapers to TV campaigns and I've never spent money on ANY advertising that has had a higher ROI than Rightmove. Just because the fees have gone up inline with their increasing market share of home buyers doesn't mean they are expensive. AM advocates just don't get that.

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        1. Beano

          That is a separate issue. If you feel you get genuine value for money great. Thats why we use businesses isnt it? I purchase things that either give me a return or are fit for the purpose I need. What I have never done, until the advent of RM/Z, is allow a provider to bend me over a barrell and squeeze whatever drops they can from me irrespective. For the record I pay double now to advertise 1/3 of the properties I did 4 years ago.

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          1. PeeBee

            Hope you don't mind me 'butting in' to your discussion, chaps… but a couple of questions needs to be asked, Beano – if, as you say, " I pay double now to advertise 1/3 of the properties I did 4 years ago." – then why do you pay it, month in : month out? Also, you state "What I have never done, until the advent of RM/Z, is allow a provider to bend me over a barrell and squeeze whatever drops they can from me irrespective." Did you never use press advertising previously? For two decades that I can remember pre-t'internet the papers squeezed, kicked, chewed and otherwise roughly treated every agent's danglers that I know…

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          2. Robin

            This is a reply to CP and PeeBee …. CP – I dont think anybody would say that RM dont produce results but how do you calculate ROI? This surely is going to vary wildly from one agent to another depending on size, ability to negotiate discounts and number of properties uploaded etc. Also, RM fees are not going up in line with their 'increasing share of homebuyers', as you say, but in line with their grip on the number of homes uploaded by their customers – and because there is nowhere else to go their customers are a captive audience. Any responsible company in this situation looking for customer loyalty and longevity in their field would restrict their fee increases to a reasonable level – above inflation perhaps but not 10x inflation every year. Their hell-bent drive to increase their fees exponentially without justification is the only reason why AM is getting support and could – or should – ultimately lead to their demise. PeeBee – I agree with you about the newspapers but we could always dip in and out of the paper – they never had complete domination. Also, there were locations where a number of agents got together to print their own paper as a 'mutual' exercise to combat the local press when they got too expensive – a forerunner of the AM concept perhaps and brought about by exactly the same greedy attitude in the prevailing advertising medium.

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    3. Ric

      CP – you are probably more right on the fact too many front line staff DO NOT know enough about OTM or more to the point the "One other main portal rule"…….so the answer you got really doesn't surprise me, as the staff probably just think we would never come off because outside of the boardroom that is all they have ever heard………………Your point about Z and not being on it effects your business is really not correct, the 38% of those people would look on RM anyway OR (as I may be wrong) perhaps ask the 38% of people "do you look at any other property portal when house hunting" and see what they say…….Z do not have UNIQUE buyers in my opinion otherwise I would be struggling massively with my 4 offices to survive against all my Z listed competitors………………and I really am not, that you simply have to believe, not being on Z helps me win instructions quite often…………………………………The mistake however too many agents have and are still making is not coming off Z now….(or RM as their choice may be) and talking about OTM in advance……..I am in the North and Z up here (my opinion) is useless, are you in the South? as it is fair to say there seems to be a real split in the country as to the opinions on Z and RM! which I think will end up as an advantage to OTM…………….

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  7. JungleProperty

    Rightmove's true north is delivering shareholder value and if they can think of new ways of making money they will do it so do not discount anything

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  8. PeeBee

    You've just gotta laugh – the usual suspects trying to hijack the discussion. Mr Quirk – we are NOT quaking in our boots over online Agents – jog on. Mr Mealham – I'm pleased to advise that we manage quite well on our own miniscule buyer pool without having to 'sub out' our properties to others, thank you. 'CP' – your findings are to say the least, of concern – but interestingly I raised this very point several weeks ago with a member of The AM Collective. The response I received was along the lines of "why would I tell people NOW – their homes will be sold by 1/1/15". Yeah, right! Wool, eyes and pulling all come to mind…

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  9. Trevor Mealham

    Property Live had £2m? But didnt have the weight to hit the big portals…….. what will make OTM different?

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  10. Benay

    “unprofessional scaremongering” shouldn't that read professional scaremongering?

    Putting the heebie-jeebies into agents over all manner of things; subscription costs, online agents, franchises and multi- listers, has been the trademark of the AM sales pitch so this latest frightener is probably timed to get the undecided into a sweat and signed up before it is too late.

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  11. Eric Walker

    I would be extremely surprised if anyone at Rightmove would leak a business plan – they are notoriously tight lipped about such things. This propaganda is getting worse than the Scottish referendum campaign. I think Stellios is missing a trick. easyRumour – a site which generates stories for on-line businesses. Apparently there are over 10,000 rumours already in the pipeline.

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  12. Surveyor

    Hang on a minute, I don't want Rightmove pinching my thunder! Albeit it's a natural progression in my view for either Rightmove or Zoopla to offer such listings. http://www.totallymoving.co.uk already offers private buyers the chance to list their properties for sale you know, have a look.

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    1. CP

      I see not one AM agent has made a reply to my question earlier … So, how many AM agents out there have already explained their decision to drop RM or Z to potential or existing clients from 1st January? And what was the response?

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      1. CP

        Got to add to my post above … just noticed over 2000 views of this thread and not ONE AM agent has given any indication as to whether they have or have not told potential or existing clients that they will be dropping RM or Z from 1st January.

        Another question … have you told your staff yet? What was their response?

        Will any of you speak up?

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        1. Ric

          I've said before……………………….We never went on Z as a rubbish site so no decision for me to be made as I have said previously (well I was on Z for a 6 month cheap trial deal 18 months ago which showed no positive effect on my business other than being £39 a month per branch down), as for RM……. I hate to admit I will not be leading the way on dropping RM…….locally until I know OTM site will be good!…………………… I attended a meeting yesterday and was intrigued to hear how many are seriously contemplating dropping RM………………..All my staff are fully briefed and already spreading the word about OTM and its pending launch…..our adverts and promos are ready and our new stock coming to the market post it's launch will only be available on my company website and OTM for the first 14 days or so………………….and I still would love AM agents to make their RM stock invisible for the first month during the OTM launch…..to really shift the audiences attention to OTM………..as no properties means no return visits……so for me the big opportunity is in the first weeks of its launch…….it will certainly have the stock………but so will RM so this is the bit we need to alter…..NEW stock on OTM first etc etc………………..

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          1. Shaun77

            Invisible thing is a great idea – perhaps AM should suggest this to its members?

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          2. Benay

            Just an observation Ric but if you are after impact with applicants not finding stuff on rightmove why try that in January? I've been at this long enough to know that January and August do not exit as selling months. This is like eating a whole packet of chocolate digestives in a dark room; it is great for you but no-one else knows what you are up to.

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          3. Ric

            Don't agree Benay……… January may not be the bumper "selling month" but there is a difference between "buying" and "browsing" and "browsers" turn to "buyers" eventually………………….January for me (23 years now) has been typically very busy with valuations, with people in the "should we, shouldn't we" mind set……after Christmas……and how many "should we, shouldn't we" start by looking online to see what is around! I don't think there is a "right or wrong" time to do this otherwise OTM would be launching March/April or May…for the same reason!………………any agents close in January and August because "what's the point"………..in your experience Benay you have surely picked up on lots of people enter a new year with thoughts of "doing things" which include moving……..I would even argue doing this on Christmas Day for 2 months would be good………people off work bored…….staring at "the nations favourite property portal" and nada for sale!!!!! perfect timing…..!

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        2. Shaun77

          I don't see the need to inform all vendors prior to launch. They are entrusting us to make the right decisions on their behalf, and the same goes for our staff.
          In my experience, it's rare for vendors to ask about the websites we use during a valuation – perhaps no more than 5%.
          Given all AM members will still be on either RM or Z they are still able to offer "blanket" coverage until the audience numbers start shifting and it dawns on the public that neither RM or Z are able to offer full coverage.

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          1. Ric

            Completely agree……….. the agents who will trip themselves up are the ones who oversell being on RM and Z still to try and compete with agents who can sell themselves without mentioning the websites……………….its been said before……..the portals are something we all offer and should not be the main focus of anything……..Like you I rarely get asked a question about RM or any website……although if CP mystery shopped me, I guess I would know who it is…….asking about RM Z and OTM before I've even done a valuation.

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          2. Ric

            Sorry Shaun77 and yes I've been championing the Invisible bit for ages, as a simple way to drop RM without coming out of a contract……….. I actually think if done on the day of OTM launch a week or two could be enough to really hammer a message home and shift focus to OTM..

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  13. Jonnie

    So this little AM effort has blown some sunshine up RMs skirt and they've only ***** gone for it and responded! They never really given their competition so much as a bit of a glare when they get a bit lippy and here they are entering into a row. Also, this OTM could be the best stocked portal within hours of launch, the consumer will go where the property is, if I could list most houses for sale in the uk tattooed on my **** that's where everyone would look first – Jonnie

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    1. Ric

      OnTheBall.com……………the Dogs ******** of a website! 🙂

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      1. PeeBee

        Ric – when and IF the site is even unveiled it could well be, as you state, the collie's cojones. It could however just as easily be akin to the brown sticky stuff that is forcibly ejected from a place not too far removed from said danglers… Time will tell, mon ami! ;o) Have you downloaded your Marketing Pack yet? Has ANYONE? Did you know it was there? Wouldn't it be terrible if I was the one to tell you…

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        1. Ric

          Hi PeeBee….I have not downloaded any marketing pack as such (the logos I have) but to be honest I don't need them to market anything for me……….. I am talking about it a lot for now, have spread the word on Social media, staff primed and all of our company letters are now showing a "coming soon OTM" logo and "for more info call" (our brochures are to follow suit soon)…….not much more can be done or needs to be done as in my opinion it now needs a working platform and stock for the "shouting about it" to really stick, the people we are trying to impress will only really care when they see houses on the site.

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  14. Paul H

    It appears that Rightmove have had their feathers ruffled and have come out on the attack to defend their position. As Jonnie has said this is a big shift change for Rightmove who normally would never have anything to say on such matters clearly we are reaching the business end of things as far as onthemarket is concerned. On another note what of LSL holdings who are one of the corporates behind Zoopla?! Peter Rollings has been fairly quiet on Agents mutual unless I have missed something!

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  15. jmeapps01

    The only thing likely to make Rightmove move to taking on private listings is if agents leave in large numbers to join AM. But lets face it we all know really that isn't going to happen. As soon as any of my competitors leaves RM or Zpl I will crucify them.

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    1. Ric

      You should be able to crucify them anyway jmeapps01……….if you need your competitors to come off RM and Z to shine, you have a problem in my opinion…! (unless you mean crucify them more?)………….

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  16. Jonnie

    **** I hate SCD! Anyway, let's imagine RM break a billion pound business model, have a bit of a sulk and go direct to consumer, sort out a way of taking photos and all that stuff the public need to upload properly, provide all the consumer needs like someone to talk to when their buyer is being a **** over £60 worth of curtains and so on……….how piggin dull! See listings from the orange aeroplane lot to see just how eye scratchingley dreadful RM would look / would have fallen -Jonnie

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