Online agents go from 2.5% of market share to over 5% in two years – Rightmove

The property and technology worlds collided in the heart of London for the Future Property Tech conference, held yesterday.

EYE’s new Proptech editor  (me!) was on hand to report on the day’s proceedings and highlight any interesting technology.

The day was kicked off with a panel discussion about deals within Proptech and the head of steam the industry has been gaining.

Headlining the panel was Charlie Wade of VTS, a US Proptech company which recently launched in the UK thanks to raising a mammoth $55m.

Google were up next with a whirlwind tour of how they are baking technology into our phones.

The example which had the crowd gasping was viewing a restaurant menu through the phone’s camera lens, and seeing the app replace the English words with French.

This technology is related to virtual reality and is called augmented reality, where you can see the world around you and computers can add images into your vision that help.

For the property world, that could be seeing live property listings in your glasses as your walk past homes on your street.

When asked by the audience whether Google will try and build a property portal again, the speaker responded by referencing Google Compare which was designed to ‘disrupt’ comparison sites.

He said Google is “taking a backseat” as it didn’t work out so well and it therefore seems unlikely that Google will enter the property portal space again.

A question on whether Google will be inventing an AI to replace estate agents unfortunately went unanswered.

Other speakers through the day included Eyal Malinger of Countrywide, who said his firm is sometimes known as the “best kept secret in the industry” which elicited laughter.

He spoke about wanting to “work with disruption” and said that “real innovative disruption cannot be stopped”.

Using the investment partnership with Fixflo as an example – which takes the pain of reporting repairs away for both tenants and landlords – he said Countrywide are looking for anything that “improves the productivity of our people and makes our customers happier”.

Main event

The undoubted main event was Miles Shipside of Rightmove.

Hosting a round table on what an estate agency might look like in the future, Shipside was a whirlwind of energy ensuring a wide variety of the audience got to speak.

Among the variety of views was EweMove Chief Glenn Ackroyd, saying 4-5% of people chose an estate agent based on price according to a Property Academy survey in 2013.

He highlighted that chains are where a local agent “earns their crust”, and are where an online agent “struggles to solve the pain”.

The conversation moved on to comparing the rise of online agents with conveyancing factories, which came in to disrupt their market.

The results were described as ending up with “some casualties, some mergers, but the conveyancing process is still way behind technology wise and needs fixing”.

Shipside went on to show data on Rightmove’s ‘Geographic Pricing Model’ for online agents, which now account for just over 5% of the market.

The graph on screen displayed that their market share was 2.5% in January 2014.

The Rightmove data on screen also included survey data of sellers of which 31% said they’d consider using an online agent, and 5% said they already have.

Russell Quirk of eMoov was quick to say “incumbents talk about online is only 5%, but if it’s doubled in two years, then where it could get to in 5-10 years, then I’d be a very happy individual.”

The next slide to pop up on the screen then burst the Emoov bubble by showing consumer awareness of online agents and whether they would consider using them: Purplebricks had 76% awareness to eMoov’s 32% and 19% of consumers said they’d consider using the former versus only 4% who would consider using Quirk’s business.

Rightmove said their interpretation of the research was “online brands struggling to convert that awareness into consideration.”

Iain White, a former agent with Romans, said: “all the models will work, if the offering is good. If what’s delivered is what was offered, then people will enjoy the choice.”

To add emphasis he described choice as “some people will want to sit on aisle, some by the window and other people will want to be strapped on the wing.”

He quickly raised the hackles of Adam Day of Hatched by saying, “Current online growth can’t continue as the spend isn’t sustainable at current profit levels.”

To which Day responded with “Sellers we (at Hatched) attract are more serious, as they’re paying up front so we achieve success on 65% of sales (as opposed to the widely touted 50% in the room.”

On the topic of price, Quirk gave us the gem that “Sellers want the agent to come and agree with them. It’s not a valuation, but a validation.”

Trevor Mealham of INEA did his best to talk everyone in the room into submitting to an INEA dominated future and was quickly told by Shipside that “Licensing? Not going to happen” when Mealham suggested licensing will come in within the next 2-3 years.

A French agent concurred by saying “licensed agents there (in France) are just as little trusted as here in the UK. Licensing is a red herring.”

The only mention of technology came from Eyal Malinger: “The risk is good agents becoming independent if given the technology to go solo.”

Another member of the audience called this the potential “Uberisation of estate agents” in reference to the surprising disruption of taxis by the ride-hailing app Uber.

And the conclusion?

Debbie Franklin of Andrews Property Group said she’d “been before” and that the event had “gathered momentum”.

She said while the “first session was boring”, she found “as the day’s gone on it’s been really good. The exhibition could be a bit bigger.”

She stated that while Andrews “previously haven’t thought of investing in things, if there’d been a few more stands it would have been more informative and visual. You don’t know who these startups are and those who aren’t good at promoting themselves could have a good solution for us.”

As the day ended, I felt a sense of anti-climax: I looked but didn’t come across any technology that would disrupt or enable agents so that consumers would get a better service.

Here’s hoping the massive amount of people who attended this well run event are inspired to invent that better future.

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27 Comments

  1. Chri Wood

    Is it just me, but does anyone else remember certain agents pre IPO and crowd funding claiming that they already had a 5% share a couple of years ago? I’m not convinced by Rightmoves 5% figure as the ‘clean’ data I have access to suggests a rather different figure however, % market shares will vary hour by hour, let alone on a daily basis.

    What is certain, is that the centralised remote call-centre model is now officially exposed as a failure for all involved (predominantly its customers) with all of the larger players now moving to the ‘local experts’ (having previously spent considerable effort rubbishing ‘local knowledge’ for the previous few years).

    “Local knowledge as a value added is totally unquantifiable and unprovable. Smoke and mirrors” Russell Quirk

    “What does your local knowledge add to anything? Tangibly” Russell Quirk

    In a business model that demands high and increasing volumes and market share to survive and thrive, it will be interesting to see how the ‘fixed price, high instruction, pay whether you sell or not’ fares now that transaction and instruction numbers are falling across the UK. Some call-centre agents have already offered massive discounts (over 30%) just to maintain volumes (presumably to fluff up the figures for another round of funding.

    Smoke and mirrors, investors, smoke and mirrors.

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    1. RayhanProptech

      I should clarify that Rightmove were displaying data on their ‘geographic pricing’ as a proxy of online market share.

      The geographic pricing applies to any agent without a shop front, so very much includes bedroom agents – of which there are very many.

       

      Let’s say this is non-traditional agent market share, as according to Rightmove’s customer count.

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      1. Ashley Francis

        I believe MIles mentioned at the start that as this was data on their geographic pricing structure it only applied to nationals (where its priced on a per listing basis) – hence some online / hybrid / bedroom agents wouldn’t be included as they work in a specific area and pay based on the office structure.

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      2. Garret2

        Surely most of the 2.5% increase is PurpleBricks & that market share has only been achieved by spending serious £££££’s

        I don’t think Mr Quirk should get too wet at this stage. 100% growth year on year is not what we’re looking at here.

         

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    2. Keyser_Söze

      Here’s some basic analysis on Emoov’s current stock:
      Total stock (including SSTC) according to Zoopla:  2,586
       2,296 pre-owned
      ·         290 new build
      Let’s delve into the new build stock a little more:
      Precisely 0 of the 290 new build properties are SSTC according to Zoopla
      ·         274 (94%) of the new build properties have been listed since January 2016 (if the listing date is correct…)
      ·         Many of the new builds are from the same development (are they really unique listings?)
            Many are multi-listings advertised alongside other agents
      ·         Many traditional estate agents would not waste their time with this quality of stock
        ·    But what about online agents pressurised by investors to show growth?
      ·         Is this new build stock on their no sale no fee package? From a cost perspective Emoov would be massively out of pocket so far
      ·         Or have the developers really paid upfront fees per property? Based on their SSTC ratio (zero) for new build properties then the developers would be massively out of pocket so far
      In summary:
      ·         Available properties according to Home: 1,341
      ·         1,341 – 290 unsold new build properties = 1,051 typical traditional estate agency stock (this in my view is their true position in terms of available stock)
      ·         A perpetual ‘Limited Time Offer’ combined with low quality new build stock (on no sale, no fee?). Is this a desperation play due to traditional estate agents reducing fees, low national stock levels plus increasing competition between online agents? Added with the pressure of showing investors ‘growth’?

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      1. Chri Wood

        Amen.

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        1. Chri Wood

          The eMoov figures I have show the total stock is 2,251 with 150 marked as sstc and 817 marked as under offer = sub 43% success rate. I.e. 6 in 10 customers are paying to sell but not selling

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          1. Keyser_Söze

            I think the actual figure would be even worse.

            What about the sellers who list their property for a few months, get no interest and don’t sell? Then remove their property from Emoov’s books and list with another agent.

            These sellers wouldn’t be included in your figures. Only live properties and ones that they have agreed sales on would.

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      2. Robert May

        When did you run those numbers Keyser?  They are about 15% higher than listings on Rightmove at 1pm. That said Rightmove are being vigilant in respect of duplicated listings knowing NTSEAT, Financial Times and Sunday Times  are taking a keen interest in actual factual property listings.

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        1. Keyser_Söze

          I collected the figures at midday today off Emoov’s Zoopla page.

          It currently shows: 2,568

          If you change ‘include_sold=true’ in the URL to ‘include_sold=false’ you will see 1,466 available properties.

           

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  2. Robert May

    When I heard that  I investigated how they have gone from 2.7% a month ago to over 5%, they haven’t. Obviously Rightmove have the benefit of direct access to their data and accurate numbers of the FSBO , passive intermediaries and online agents they let on to the site ( some in contravention of their own ‘agents only’ condition)

    Yesterday there were in the region of 27500 properties  listed against a total of 650,000 which is 4.2%. When I was running numbers a month ago there were 771,000 properties listed with 21,000 properties from the  known FSBO, PI, Internet listers.

     

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    1. RayhanProptech

      See response above please. It’s all non-traditional agents – not just online.

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      1. Robert May

        The problem with that is a stigma  is dropped onto  honest decent traditional agencies by lumping the in with the group think notion all online agents are parasites, they aren’t

        Perhaps there needs to be more clarity  about the definition of  what an estate agent is: Someone operating locally but without an office  shouldn’t be tarred with the  same brush as people who claim to be local  but aren’t and listers working for firms set up to bypass the main portals’ ‘agent only rules’. Additionally there are agents who operate nationally but  within a niche sector to whom  miles on a motorway is their office.

        There are loud self promoters who will grab this headline without the qualification you have supplied and use it to claim massive sector growth to lure in hapless investors who simply don’t understand the subtitles of schemes designed to provide piggyback profits for a few rather than trading profits for all.

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  3. Property Paddy

    This re-enforces my (and many others, like OTM) that on liners are hitching a ride on the back of high street agents long term investment with rightmove.

    But because OTM exclusive 2 portal rule they are way behind the rest of the field.

    i think many agents would stay and new ones would join if they dropped this. Plus if OTM took the fight to the agents asking them to visibly support them to become the largest portal for property and visitors then many agents would start to drop rightmove rather than where we are now.

    come OTM get some balls !

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    1. Shaun77

      OTM, along with the agents that have already joined, have already demonstrated they’re not lacking in the cojones department. I would suggest it’s those who haven’t joined that are in need of acquiring said gonads.

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      1. Property Paddy

        Gonads indeed.

        however you missed my point in relation to rightmove specifically.

        at the moment rm has a very dominent market position, attained by massive investment by pretty much all agents.

        rm are perfectly happy and reasonably, for them, to allow hybrid, online and height street agents to market through their portal. In fact we agents cannot afford to drop them.

        however we also have to protect our present market by not dropping the two biggest portals, so many have dropped z and moved to otm but not so much dropping rm.

        therefore either otm take the fight to the agents or they just sit their in a lowly third spot never reaching their full potential.

        i am not with otm, I am not the worst performing agent in my territory.

        the worst is exclusively with otm, second worse also otm and z too.

        the rest are mixed between r and r plus otm or z

        they are all way ahead of the bottom two.

        we are for example ranking fourth from top. But we are competing with large multi branch corporates ( two of which we have now overtaken in market share this 12 months). The top three are all on rm and otm, however we are looking to be top three next 12 months and we see our market advantage is because we are not on otm.

        so you see, I am not telling them to get gonads for my good health.

        but if I was going to invest any of my money with otm it’s because I have the choice or all three portals.

        As I have said before it’s not the cost of advertising with otm it’s the cost of not being seen on Z.

        OTM needs to up its game, remove its two portal rule and take the fight back to the agents like me and many, many others.

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    2. SJEA

      Fully agree with your first statement Property Paddy although I do not think the one other portal rule is a major issue for the majority of supporters of OTM.

      After speaking to many of my local independent competitors, we are all of the same mind that the dropping of Zoopla did not have any major impact on our business. It’s not just about the numbers but the quality of enquiries that matter.

      Unlike any of the other portals, many of the OTM supporters are only driving the OTM brand and not others as we used to do. It takes time and as Shaun77 has suggested, those not already supporting should ‘grow some’ and start supporting OTM to protect their business because whether we like it or not, the onliners swoop in on the basis of cost after many of the High Street agents have give the advice/valuation needed.

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  4. smile please

    If i went out today, spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in my area saying that i will sell your house for a £100 i am sure i could probably get 90% of the market.

    Problem is i will not make profit, i will probably not be able to pay back the hundreds of thousands of pounds i have raised from investors and through loans.

    This is basically the problem PB are facing but in the MILLIONS.

    Big deal if they have between 2 and 5% market share – They are not making a penny they are losing money day after day.

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  5. Chri Wood

    What the data shows (whichever way you look at it) is that the public is voting very clearly with its feet.

    Remember, call-centre agents promised investors a doubling of market share every year in 2014 (and were claiming a 5% market share then) – If I was an investor, I’d want to know where is the 20% market share I was promised in 2016 when I parted with my pocket money in 2014

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  6. Beano

    These conversations always remind me of the old fable ‘belling the cat’. As agent we are all mice and Rightmove the cat relies on us to continue to behave against each other whilst talking as though we are united…..

     
    Long ago, the mice held a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the cat. Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he though would meet the case.
    “You will all agree,” said he, “that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighborhood.”
    This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said, “That is all very well, but who is to bell the cat?”
    The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said: “It is easy to propose impossible remedies.”
     

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    1. Chri Wood

      If everyone pays for the bell, ribbon and underwrites my medical bill; pass me the bell.

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      1. AgentV

        I loved the story of belling the cat. I don’t necessarily see Rightmove itself as the cat …but more the combination of ever increasing fees combined  with falling stock levels (due to the effect of mortgage rules limiting people’s ability to move as easily or often as they used to) and increasing competition from industrial scale financially backed so-called ‘disruptive’ loss-making companies.
        The mice had a choice…they could carry on talking about something impossible to achieve or they could plan to bit by bit create a defence against the cat. They needed some revolutionary disruptive technology themselves. A shield each, a needle as a sword and the organisation to enable them to be ‘as one’ and form a ‘Shield Wall’ would have seen the cat think twice about her attacks or even back off altogether.
        Does anyone out there want to help me build the technology and the organisation?

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    2. Robert May

      I’d say the old mouse wasn’t keeping up with  geo location  tech; the cat can’t stretch on it’s cushion to break wind these days without it triggering an alert.

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  7. PeeBee

    Okay… here’s the thing.

    Mr Quirk (who doesn’t read EYE but I believe pays someone to do so for him…) has apparently – he’s not my fwiend anymore and blocked me a while ago so I’m relying on 2nd hand information here – stated on Tw@tter

    ‘Astonishing to think that a stat saying 31% of people would use an online agent is anything but proof the game has changed’ 

    SO – let’s have a look at that.

    In his article above, the author states

    ‘The Rightmove data on screen also included survey data of sellers of which 31% said they’d consider using an online agent…’

    Two words of note there – ‘CONSIDER’ and ‘USING’. Not, as Mr Quirk states “would use”.

    Now it is only fair to say that ‘would use’ may well be the case in probably the vast majority of multitudinous alternative universes to which he teleports from every now and then , bringing away with him various beneficial-to-the-cause statistics and truths to then drop said nuggets on the unsuspecting public.

    Maybe – just maybe – in some of the billions of other alternative realities he has access to it is actually ‘the norm’ to use the services of a Call-Centre to flog off your largest and most valuable asset.  Hey – who knows?  Stranger anomalies have I would suggest been shown on Star Trek and I’ve believed every time-warping second of it.

    BUT… and it’s by far the biggest ‘but’ since buts were first butted way back in the days of old… even IF 31% would ‘consider using’ a Call-Centre/Hybrid/BedroomBilly type of Agent – the stark fact that Mr Quirk needs to het his head round is that the ACTUAL figure is less than one-sixth of that.

    The rest must have fallen into a Black Hole somewhere in the Delta Quadrant.

    In the mean time – all quality Agents will live long and prosper, no doubt.

    It’s logical.

    <sighs> Over to you, ‘keentoobserve17’ – this one’s not yet in the archive…

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  8. M Barnard

    PeeBee – apologies for the repetition but it’s worth a second airing…

    You would think that Mr Q would be more bothered about the 68% of people in the survey who weren’t aware of his business and the 96% who said they wouldn’t use his business!

    #LongWayToGo #NeedsMoreMarketing #SelectiveUseOfStats

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    1. PeeBee

      Oh – don’t apologise – it’s WELL worth a second… third… however many-times airing until the penny drops with those who are basically putting money on the back of a horse that the owner says is a ‘cert’ – without even knowing how many legs it has got never mind which direction it will take them in.

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  9. AgentV

    I loved the story of belling the cat. I don’t necessarily see Rightmove itself as the cat …but more the combination of ever increasing fees combined  with falling stock levels (due to the effect of mortgage rules limiting people’s ability to move as easily or often as they used to) and increasing competition from industrial scale financially backed so-called ‘disruptive’ loss-making companies.

    The mice had a choice…they could carry on talking about something impossible to achieve or they could plan to bit by bit create a defence against the cat. They needed some revolutionary disruptive technology themselves. A shield each, a needle as a sword and the organisation to enable them to be ‘as one’ and form a ‘Shield Wall’ would have seen the cat think twice about her attacks or even back off altogether.

    Does anyone out there want to help me build the technology and the organisation?

    Report
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