As we move into the final quarter of 2020, the demand for fairer value, innovation and better service from Rightmove still remains unsatisfied. Say No To Rightmove was spawned from an initial desire to fight for a fairer deal for the independent UK estate agency industry. We quickly received and have maintained support from around 4,000 likeminded UK estate agency offices and have further enjoyed the very proactive support of Estate Agency Union (lead by Murray Lee), Boycott Rightmove (lead by Paul Davies) and The Revolution of Estate Agency 2020 (lead by David Thomas).
Rightmove are using a property market turbocharged by Government incentives, Help To Buy and pent-up demand against the very clients that supply the stock that drives the public to their portal. Buoyed by what are short-term headwinds, Rightmove appear to have learnt little or nothing from their clients’ representations over the last 6 months. Almost inevitably they will attempt to turn the heat back up – not just to full tariff – but will audaciously try to leverage some of the UK’s smallest agents into the most expensive contracts they have ever been presented with. Only the hardest negotiating and most confident agents have either held out for a better deal or, when forced to the limit, walked away. The inequity of the estate agency industry’s relationship with the UK's biggest portal remains for many their most frustrating and biggest challenge.
Rightmove’s monopoly is fuelled by the continued absence of a challenger portal that not only has the technology and agents’ support, but can accelerate the public awareness of its brand. Directly marketing to the public is a space that Rightmove have dominated for years, and without tens of millions of pounds of marketing spend, the new portal offerings, good as each is, will remain undiscovered.
If Homesearch, Onedome, OpenBrix, PropertyHeads and their contemporaries are to sustain and win a game-changing amount of market share, they need huge marketing budgets and must go toe-to-toe with Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. Perhaps the first of the challengers to launch with a properly funded, direct marketing strategy will be Boomin? Only time will tell if they can live up to their promise of being the "agents’ friend" whilst simultaneously seeking a more diverse set of income streams. Perhaps this will also stimulate renewed and innovative marketing strategies from both OTM and Zoopla; the former still being over 65% agent-owned and surely still with far greater ambition to increase its level of agent ownership than it has shown thus far.
Success in the portal sector will not be won on technology and innovation alone. In the absence of agents setting aside their competitive nature and placing all their listings with the platform that provides best value – and nowhere else – it will be the portal that continues to win the hearts and minds of the public that sustain the greatest level of agent loyalty. Nevertheless, the dichotomy remains that UK independent estate agents really are the ‘kingmakers’ of the portal industry, if only they believed it. If we did all choose to align where our instructions are all listed, we could equally control what we spend.
Say No To Rightmove remains committed to achieving major structural change, in particular the tariff paid to portals by the average estate agency business. The revolution that was threatened in March of this year may take a little longer to achieve, but the desire to achieve it has not waned!