An estate agent has called for the industry to unite behind OnTheMarket – as a way of reining in Rightmove.
Carl Warden, of Bell Ingram, Perth, suggests that agents could list exclusively on OTM.
Bell Ingram is primarily a chartered surveying firm but Warden heads up its estate agency business across five offices.
He said the firm has recently had its Rightmove prices raised by £150 per month per branch, to £950 per month per branch.
He said: “Soon we will be paying £1,000, and then £1,300, and so on – as things stand, this is only going to go one way.
“Rightmove is the market leader because agents have made them so. We do need to be on Rightmove – but, boy, do they know it.
“At the moment it is out of control and their increases are certainly not in line with inflation.
“It is a good portal, and I am not saying otherwise, but we are the ones that should be in control. Instead, we are the ones that have created the monster that is Rightmove.
“It is notable that every single meeting you have with a Rightmove rep is always all about price. Their attitude, if we complain, is to suggest that we are not using it properly, or that we need to buy more add-ons and spend more.”
Warden, whose firm has been a paying member of OnTheMarket since the start, says that OTM’s initial ‘one other portal’ rule has helped create the situation.
He said: “When OTM launched, the ‘one other portal’ rule led to a lot of agents walking away from Zoopla and only strengthened Rightmove.
“It is now biting the very hands that feed it.”
He said that it was hard to compare leads from Rightmove with those from OTM because they were so different in terms of quantity and quality, but said: “The important thing is that Rightmove should realise it has competition. At the moment, it feels like a monopoly.”
Separately, another agent has said he has signed up his four branches to OnTheMarket.
Paul Gray, managing director of Suffolk firm Flick & Son, said: “As a big believer in Rightmove this was a big decision but equally a no-brainer as it’s free and I would love it to work as Rightmove costs are just getting crazy.
“I currently spend £100,000 a year on Rightmove. My thought has always been that Rightmove is such an important part of our business as we use it to all its benefits and if you ask 100 people in the street outside the M25 where they look for property I think nine out of ten would say Rightmove.”
Gray added: “As the market gets tighter I have found that our new hub servicing our branches with its phone-out culture is winning over Rightmove leads. We have bucked the trend this year with an increase in market share by 12% and a sold market share across the heritage coast of 33%.”