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.”