OPINION: You’ve got more chance of joining Mensa than converting a Rightmove lead

My experience of leads from property portals is that they are generally, but not always, dire.

Many enquirers don’t pick up the phone when you call back nor do they respond to email follow ups. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking that at night especially, the population of the UK turn from Jekyll to Hyde, intent on ‘expressing interest’ in your listings but once sober again, forget their alcohol fuelled plan from the night before.

Have you ever got through to one of these mystery types and then been faced with muffled grunts at the other end of the phone that deny all knowledge of pressing the portal’s send button. Yes, loads of times.

There are about one million homes sold each year across Britain, in normal years that is. Yet Rightmove tell us that they’re sending seventy trillion leads a day to their subscribing agents, or whatever it is now. Ok, it’s not quite as silly as that but according to Peter Brooks-Johnson, Rightmove’s CEO in his recent annual address to shareholders, they did send 51 million leads last year.

To put this into perspective that’s almost every man woman and child in the country enquiring with agents via the portal. Or to be exact, 0.76 leads for every member of the population.

Now, this looks impressive, doesn’t it? And that’s why Rightmove, Zoopla and Co all use the lead metric as the money-stick with which to beat you at renewal time.

The conversation goes something like this in essence:

“Hi, I’m your Rightmove account manager that you haven’t seen or heard from since this time last year. I’m delighted to confirm that the number of leads that we have sent your company via email and telephone have again rocketed since then, up twenty something percent. And which is why we are putting your subscription fees up by twenty percent again and, of course, because our shareholders require us to do so in order that they can take hundreds of millions of pounds in dividends off the table too”.

But since when have leads been the metric of success in estate agency? I’m not aware that you can pay your staff in leads and nor do Ocado, LastMinute.com, BMW, British Gas nor Halifax Bank take leads for payment.

‘Hello welcome to McDonalds Drive Thru can I take your order?”

“Yes, I’ll have a Big and a Diet-Coke”.

“That’ll be £5.89. Drive to the next window please”.

“Ok, I’ve got a couple of emails from a Joan Simpson of 23 Acacia Avenue here wanting to view a house I sold two months ago and a phone call from a guy in Aylesbury asking if we do AirBnB lets. Do you take those?

Yet, Rightmove and Zoopla have both managed to position a bunch of random emails sent by bored people at 3am as the metric by which you now pay multiple times more for your listings to be displayed on someone else’s website. What a con trick that is and, actually, hearty congratulations to the big portals for managing to pull it off.

Russell Quirk

In a parallel sector this would be like a restaurant charging you to view the menu comprised of your own shopping and without providing you something to eat. A travel agency sending you a YouTube clip of a beach holiday you had two years ago and charging you thousands of pounds to see it.

Rightmove and Zoopla are charging you fortunes every year for the names and phone numbers of people that have a one in fifty chance of providing you an income. That’s what 51 million leads divided by 1 million transactions is and that’s assuming Rightmove are responsible for all UK property sale transactions – which they are not.

Statistically speaking, at this 2% conversion rate at very best, you have a greater chance of qualifying to become a member of Mensa than you have of turning a Rightmove lead into a sale. I kid you not – that’s the maths.

Shouldn’t the portals be singing to your tune on KPIs? Isn’t it surely right for you to decide what success measures are and presumably that this is gauged by actual revenue – money.

Just think, if you only paid a portal on actual success – by sales themselves and, dare I venture, by valuations booked or listings listed, then and only then I rather suspect that their attitude to leads would change somewhat. They would quickly filter out the rubbish and ‘dis-encourage’ nightcrawlers from their beer-stained keyboards. Agents themselves might even start opening more than half of the enquiries that they are sent.

Not all leads are equal. I’d argue that most are an utter waste of oxygen because the portals have encouraged every bored cretin and their dog to randomly spam you with pointless ‘enquiries’.

The property portal that removes the stinking veil of vanity metrics from their proposition and begins to think like an agent and act like an agent in creating actual business and including proper listing leads too?

Well, they’re going to do crack it, aren’t they? The question – is which one will it be. And when?


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  1. Countrybumpkin

    Very good. The other realisation of agents who provide tangible marketing in magazines and such is from asking a RM enquirer where they first saw the property. The majority will say from the board or x magazine or my friend told me etc. I think rightmove is used a bit like the yellow pages.

    1. The Blame Game

      Drawing attention to the “the vanity mertics” of Rightmove and Zoopla is interesting.

      And it becomes even more interesting if the “Vanity Metrics Silo” is monetised for the benefit of agents?

      Answer….not if….. but…..Soon

  2. James White

    Portals don’t create valuation opportunities…..

    People talking to people create valuation opportunities.

    Prop-tech, as useful as some of it is, only has a bit part to to play in the daily performance that is the theatre of Estate Agency..

  3. Seller0169

    If it’s that poor why are you paying to be on there?

    More click bait from Mr Quirk

    1. Bosky

      Because he is not a member of Mensa

  4. Ostrich17

    Second (or third?) article this month from RQ on Rightmove.
    A reminder if you didn’t read previous article(s):-  
    “RM must be really squeezing KW – why not just drop the sales microsite and lettings?
    KW are also a Boomin’ Platinum Agent along with a raft of other onliners who don’t get onto OTM.”  
    Edit: – It appears that KW do advertise on OTM. How’s that going Russell ?

  5. John Murray

    Glad I actually am in Mensa then! The portals do give a good start point to really qualify buyers and although few go on to purchase the initial property they enquire about, great qualification and subsequent accompanied viewings help us to link and match more suitable homes.
    Also important for potential vendors to see you advertising and selling homes similar to theirs, as other buyers do miss out on viewing day.

  6. TopBanana

    Mr Quirk does make an interesting and valid point. Rightmove have been using vague metrics to hold agents to ransom for years now, as they know they are the largest portal with most eyeball views. They have become the schoolyard bully. In some ways we can only hope OTM and newcomers like Boomin manage to make a dent in the Rightmove armour. Serious competition and good options = a better market with more choice for the agent = giving the agent some power back. Ultimately its still the skill of the agent, and not the portal, that helps to sell the property.

  7. SouthWestAgent

    To paraphrase Basil Fawlty, “Coming up now on Mastermind, Russell Quirk with his specialist subject, The Bleedin’ Obvious.”

  8. 22fdunst91

    Yet another questionable piece by a so called ‘expert’… I’ve seen nothing that qualifies him as such!

    The portal argument is a ridiculous one. If they add value to your agency pay the subscription fees. If they don’t then leave. Each agency has their own decision to make. Continually carping about it is a waste of time and focus.

    If anyone out there is paying for a marketing channel that isn’t generating an acceptable roi they should spend a bit more time getting their house in order and a bit less time moaning…

    1. nick1927

      Totally agree with your points.

      I scan through his articles briefly so although PIE gets the clickbait required from an article from RQ.

      I am sure most like me just go straight to the comments section!

      He is not an expert he was at the helm of a failed business. Can we please hear from someone who has been in the industry for say 30 years, and hasn’t been involved in some crowd funded start up but perhaps an independent estate agency and their weekly/monthly views.

      1. Ric

        I’ve done it 28 years, (so fall short of the 30 year bit) but I must say I do agree with RQ.


        Far too many RM leads do not call back and so so many do stutter and mutter as they try to remember which property they clicked on.


        I always used to remember RMs 5% CTR target, which I interpreted as – They feel 95% of users were a waste of time.


        Indeed, we all have some good leads, and I am sure someone will comment, they called someone (a RM lead) who didn’t view in the end, but 5 months later after keeping in contact they got a valuation, instruction, mortgage appointment, sold them a house, did the mortgage for their buyers, ended up selling for 8 of their family members and referred solicitors too! (we can all make that ***** up).



  9. PaulC

    While I agree Rightmoves conduct at times can be liken  to a bully more than a partner.

    Some of their actions are even worse at times.

    We track out lead sources closely and they they do deliver the lowest cost per lead for us. (Quality aside)

    In our company they also generate the lowest cost per sale.

    But portals shouldn’t be just about leads which is why OTM are making some good noises right now.

    Competition also good which is why we support and try to advertise everywhere.

    But I do feel we are overly reliant on them.

  10. KByfield04

    Leads have never been a good metric to value portals by. Would you rather have 1000 leads generate you £1m or 100,000 leads generate you £1m? Poor leads are a drain on your business and poorly serviced leads can also negatively impact your business.

    The likes of Area HQ, Agent Response and LeadPro help to filter out the noise helping to capture detailed lead adat and quickly establish the leads you should spend energy on. It is broadly accepted and proven that agents will never establish contact with about 1/3 of all portal leads- despite many efforts- which is an interesting contrast to the c constantly circumvented stat that ‘agents don’t contact 50% of their leads’.

    Ensuring that the portals you choose deliver quality leads that generate revenue is critical to establishing what is good value and what are not only an expense but a drain on your agency’s resources. Choose wisely- and use Area, Agent Response or LeadPro to quickly weed out the wheat from the chaffe!

  11. Gangsta Agent

    I think some of you are over thinking this. If you get decent leads from RM then use/pay for their services and if you don’t, then don’t………..simples (not a member of mensa)

  12. Taha Dar

    I agree with Russell’s main point here. Why would an agency prefer to deal with 49 leads for every one that brings them revenue? That means qualifying, taking to viewings, and following on those 49 leads. If they aren’t responsive, then it’s possible that these leads don’t quite know what they’re looking for, aren’t ready to transact, or aren’t a good fit for the property in question. What if there was an alternative that perhaps sent fewer leads in total, but 1 in 6 leads that you received led to revenue for you? What if these leads came pre-qualified and ready to transact, and you were only charged a fee when those leads came through and brought you, the agent, actual revenue? I think this alternative reality is what Russell is arguing for. We’re building just this – would be curious to hear feedback on what (if any) cons exist in this alternative world.


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