Is Rightmove a monopoly operation?
The question is posed by a new agent which started up eight months ago in the north-west and asked for quotes to join Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
Zoopla and OTM both quoted around the same, £330 a month for sales and lettings, says the agent on the forum Property Tribes.
Rightmove, however, quoted £1,600 a month, adding that the sum would “be discounted by 50%” for six months.
This was for covering just one postcode in a non-city location in the north of the country where the average sales price is £125,000 and fees are in the region of £800.
“The six month 50% discount was to ‘help new businesses get started. We like to support new businesses’, said my RM ‘account manager’ – the second after just two months,” says the agent, posting on the Property Tribes forum.
Knowing that Rightmove was the portal with the most traffic, the agent went with it and took up the 50% offer, giving a fee of £790 per month: “So I needed to sell a property a month to pay the Rightmove bill.”
The six months over, the fee is now £1,600 pm, meaning that the business needs to sell two houses a month just to pay the Rightmove invoice.
“I challenged this very high and uncompetitive cost with my, by now, third Rightmove account manager, and essentially was told take it or leave it.
“Shocked by what seemed extraordinary fees I contacted other agents who shared their RM fees. What I found was just as shocking – the RM pricing is all over the place.”
The agent claims:
1. No two agents paid the same fees.
2. An agency with eight staff, covering three postcodes, including Chelsea, was paying around one third of the value of my RM invoice for the basic products.
3. Agents had ‘discounts’ applied but they had no idea what they were for and had never paid the pre-discounted price: the discounts seem a meaningless entry on the invoice.
4. Some agents got multiple products totally free but others paid in full for them.
5. Pricing ignores area/postcode or agency size: small agents in low house value areas paid more than large London agents with an average sales commission of £20,000 plus.
6. Some agents complained at frequent RM price increases.
“I discussed my findings with my account manager who said that the lower fees for the big agencies were because they had been with RM for longer. But she still insisted that RM supported new small businesses trying to get established.
“She was not interested in my claims of discrimination against small northern businesses and that RM were in fact a major barrier to a new agency getting established. I would not be getting any discount.”
The agent – now on their fourth account manager in eight months – adds: “I found an arrogance in relation to customer service and no attempt to understand my needs as a customer trying to establish an agency.
“I have considered moving to other portals but read both on this forum and from comments by clients that I need to be on Rightmove.
“I feel trapped in a monopoly pricing situation.”
An interesting answer, from a small letting agent in north Manchester, is in full agreement with the comments.
This agent adds that when OnTheMarket was launched, the agent left Rightmove, and that “this gave us massive savings with no effect on the business”. However, the agent does concede that lettings is different from sales.
The full Property Tribes post is here