Pressure mounts on Rightmove to give agents a payment holiday

Rightmove is coming under increasing pressure to give agents a payment break during the coronavirus crisis.

The CEO of a major regional independent, Rob Sargent who heads up The Acorn Group in the south-east, is among those calling on Rightmove to act.

Sargent is calling for a complete payment holiday for six months. He said his own business, which has some 40 branches, is considering ditching Rightmove unless it acts.

Sargent said: “We are coming to the end of our contract with Rightmove, and on Monday I had a call from them in which they seemed to think they were delivering good news.

“They said they were not going to put up our charges. The person I spoke to seemed absolutely shocked when I asked if, in the current climate, Rightmove was going to suspend its charges for agents.

“I am still waiting to hear from them and am considering our position.”

He went on: “Agents have supported Rightmove for years. It brings in £280m and has a profit margin of over 75% – it is time it did something for us, not just my own firm but the whole industry.

“With all the add-ons, smaller agents can be paying over £3,000 per month per office. Because of its size, my firm is paying much less per office, but there is no doubt that our expansion over the years has helped drive Rightmove’s revenue and profits.”

Sargent said: “Rightmove is sitting on a huge war chest of cash, so surely now is the time to put their arm around the very agents that made them the successful business that they are today.”

He said his own firm is currently still doing “considerable” numbers of viewings but has had to adapt – for example, at the weekend it de-centralised its head office, with all 130 employees now either working from home or from branches, and staff being trained to use remote platforms.

Sargent said: “As an industry, we are now operating in a very different and rapidly changing climate. Rightmove has to recognise this. You have to ask what is the value of a portal which lists properties when people may not be able to get out and view them.”

Sargent said he will be having conversations about costs with all his firm’s suppliers, including other portals.

Separately, agent James White, managing director of Yorkshire firm Belong, in Holmfirth, has asked Rightmove to cut its subscriptions by half for the foreseeable future.

White told his Rightmove account handler by email yesterday: “Rightmove should halve its subscriptions to its member agents for the foreseeable future.

“The effects of the coronavirus on your customers is going to be catastrophic; there are no two ways about it.

“In order to assist your member agents and to gain some goodwill I am of the opinion that this represents a huge PR opportunity for you – one that will almost certainly be to your long-term advantage.

“Rather than risking an attritional stand-off as your clients go bust over the coming months, you could actually help them to survive. You have the profit margin and cash reserves to be able to help.

“At Belong we are well prepared and have cash reserves, but I know a large number of agents after over 30 years in this business; and I know that having spoken to many, they will not endure.”

We have invited Rightmove to comment.

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80 Comments

  1. GPL

     
    The Motto for Our Industry in 2020….
     
    “ Rightmove have shown Our Industry NO RESPECT ……..it’s time that we reciprocated “
     

     

    Report
    1. J1

      Rightmove I expect will be silent on the matter.

      My direct debit will fall silent on the matter.

      My response to their request for payment will in turn be silent unless they step up.

      Report
      1. J1

        Deferred payment terms won’t cut it guys and dolls….
        Its either half or free for 6 months.
        Say no to deferment.
        Or just leave……..

        Report
        1. AtomicPea

          Half wont cut it for us, its free for 6 months or we are out.

          Report
    2. ValueCounts31

      This a good opportunity for Rightmove & Zoopla to show they are in this with the World, with our Great Country and with their Clients – us the agent.

      Viewing volumes have dropped circa 50%, in turn so has their value as a portal. I hope they appreciate that their value has halved, even if just temporarily.

      I would recommend they at the very least offer us payment terms e.g. 50% of fee’s can be deferred via a payment plan that they begin clawing back from agents when this crisis is over and revenues resume to normality. This enables them to not take a hit on their balance sheet, keep their shareholders happy but support their customers through this temporary total system shock. Their cash reserves are sufficient to easily offer agents some sort of financing.

      I know most agents will be calling for reductions in fees. I’m not sure this is a realistic middle ground given portals will be wanting to protect their balance sheets.

      Report
      1. Steviex

        You know full well they’ll be going hand in cap to the banks and government to get as much of the grant money available as possible while giving very little away to the people that pay their wages 

        Report
    3. MGEA

      I assume everyone has seen or will see the email with a pathetic attempt by RM to assist their customers. We have paid towards their monopoly of the market and helped them become the extremely fat cats that they now are. A pathetic amount of £275.00 pcm per branch off the bill for just 6 months is being offered. This is only available from the 1st May and then has to be paid back over the following 6 months. Many agents will not qualify if they have struggled through Brexit and do not have a squeaky clean history of payments on time and by DD. I am astonished that this is the best they can come up with. I am paying a huge amount for two offices and even if I reduce my subscription to their most basic package, the reduced sum of £550pcm for both offices is not going to make a big enough difference when I will still have over £2k to pay for basic listings. It sums up how out of touch RM is from its customers, but at the same time how we fall into line and allow them to continue with their dominance of the market. We fear losing sellers and future instructions so we just go along with everything they say and do. The guy at Acorn is right. If there was ever a time to collectively put our foot down and say no to RM, now is that time. Clearly OTM didn’t get it right but by now I am disappointed that as a collective group we haven’t found a way to rival their portal, and one we help control. By we I do not mean the big boys who really will only look out for themselves. It is a shame that an organisation like the TPO or NAEA hasn’t found a way to assist with this where it becomes part of the subscription and where there is an underlying desire to protect its customers and not rip us all off. I wouldn’t mind if I genuinely believed the RM product had moved ahead at the same pace as our fees and their dominance has. Maybe I am missing the obvious but they only ever seem to come up with products to make money, not necessarily improve exposure or increase our buyer database. In fact it is becoming increasingly geared up to allow buyers to limit their search online and without the need of an estate agent. I moaned some years ago that the site was heading this way and at the same time I warned my account manager that if RM allows the large online estate agents to list it could be the death of the High Street agent. It may not be the death of us but it is another example of RM not caring and leaving us to fight a lonely battle whilst they play with technology and simply charge us more and more. Then when we really need them, we get offered a pathetic ‘loan’ of £275.00 pcm and for just 6 months. Truly unbelievable. I wish we could find a way to properly fight back and not just go on airing our frustrations.

      Report
      1. Covlets

        There is a way! Just leave RM. Rarely a week goes by when we don`t have `news` about RM and then we hear their customers moaning about how they are being ripped off! Its simple, leave Rightmove, hurt them in the pocket and if enough of their customers do this they will have to rethink their pricing. We left Rightmove over eight months ago and it has not affected our revenue one bit.

        Use the money you save to promote your business through your own websites.

        Report
    4. MGEA

      By time their loan is due to start on he 1st May 2020, every single customer should stop their DD and say if they do not offer us all a 6 month payment holiday we will cease our membership. Faced with NO INCOME coming in they might just listen. We all then have the opiton to carry on but by stopping the DD as a collective group they might fall in to line, at last.

      Report
  2. GPL

    ……unless Rightmove step forward NOW and DO THE RIGHT THING for OUR INDUSTRY ……which has fed them for years.

     

    Report
    1. J1

      The fact that they are putting out survival webinars says everything to me about their lack of understanding of the gravity of the current situation.
      Condescending to the end.
      It could be their end too……..

      Report
  3. Robert_May

    In 2008 when the industry was hit by a 42% fall in transaction volumes and up to 30% falls in completion prices, [in other words commission income fell by 60%] Rightmove put their subscriptions up by 26%  
     
    Since then the rise in ARPA from £307 to £1088 means an annual rate rise of 11.11% against a retail price index increase of 2.21%  
     
    For sure transaction volumes have increased  and prices have recovered but the fee erosion I used to talk about has eaten into the  benefits of an improved market from 2008.  
     
    That said an election followed by a referendum, another election then another one  every time the market tried to recover has meant agencies have  no reserves – none.  
     
    I have been posting for 3 years that  about 6000 agents have registers that I cannot fathom justify their portal spend- I simply don’t know where the money is coming from  
     
    I don’t think there is anything  Rightmove can do to reverse their lack of investment and the coercive nastiness of the past 10 years. They can promise not to do it again but as with any abusive partnership it will start again unless agents walk away.  
     
    Well done Mr.Sargent for raising this, they might listen to you!

    Report
    1. International

      We have a multi branch business and our contract with RM expires at the end of the month. I too feel this may be the opportune moment to quit and like you applaud Mr Sargent’s one. The trouble is that every time I suggest taking the walk-away option my colleagues tell me we could be crucified by out competition when pitching for Instructions. However, what is certain is that the future will be very different to what it was yesterday (or even at the moment whilst there is still some good activity) and  this will soon evaporate This is now would be a gifted moment to have a mass walk-out. We need a ‘clinic’ of like minded agents who are prepared to get together and talk openly and frankly as we did years ago before we had the competition authority. Any takers?

      Report
      1. Robert_May

        I have already had an offer of a boardroom from one of the most influential and connected agents in the country. which might not be the go but video conferencing is easy these days.

        Report
  4. EAMD172

    If there is no fee holiday by the end of the month I and my 5 offices will be saving over £10,000 a month when we give notice.
    The more of us that do it, the more people will be driven to OTM and we will all be able to save hugely moving forwards as the public will soon learn that they have to look elsewhere to shop for property.

    Report
    1. silverfox

      I have also written to them indicating I will be serving notice unless I get a payment break or a discount during this very uncertain time.

      I would rather save my business.

      Report
      1. Murray Lee

        SIlverfox could you sent me a copy of your notice?
        If we all sing form the same hymn sheet they have to hear us?
        Thanks
        Murray@dreamviewestates.co.uk

        Report
        1. silverfox

          Dear’s Sir’s
           
          As an agents who has used your service for 14 years, I am now requesting a payment break, due to the current climate to enable my business to survive these very turbulent times.
           
          If you are not able to provide a payment break or offer me a much discounted rate, then I will be serving notice. 

          Report
          1. Jay2Oh61

            This revolution is growing fast. I urge all Agents to get on board. Leaders, Nick Dunning, Dexters, Foxtons etc etc etc we need you to join up too!!!
            Rightmove are going to need to put this fire out today with payment holidays with immediate effect. 

            Report
    2. MGEA

      The public are just lazy in searching and have become used to RM with no real need to look elsewhere. Its not the product. We have all allowed that to happen by allowing RM to dominate. It is time to fight back

      Report
  5. agent sami

    Give notice now! You won’t need it for 2 months. Spend money on social media so people know you’re still trading.

    Report
    1. Property Pundit

      Have you?

      Report
  6. Andy Halstead

    Simply unbelievable, what is there to even think about? Rightmove do the Right-thing just for once……..  

    Report
    1. Property Pundit

      Admire your optimism.

      Report
  7. Neiltozer

    I think this could be make or break for Rightmove, if they don’t do the right thing and suspend payments for 6 months all independent offices will , and should, leave them.

    Report
  8. grantlance

    RM must realise that every agent up & down the country has looked at their costs over these past weeks and one of the easiest ways to save thousands each month is to  give notice to RM. As the market starts to recover no agent will be rushing out to resign a 12 month RM agreement especially if they offered agents zero support during the tougher months and then lo & behold we all start to realise that we can sell houses again without the extortionate RM costs each month. Ignore this plea to offer a payment holiday at your peril Mr Shipside

    Report
  9. AtomicPea

    We are a 4 branch independent and Phase 1 of our contingency plan is to serve RM notice. A recent article saying how RM will always be No1 is about to be tested.
    Zoopla, do the right thing. Become a site for us agents and give us a 6 month break of payments if we leave RM & by 2021 you’ll be No1.

     

    Report
  10. Jay2Oh61

    This is a turning point for Rightmove and their future.

    Failure to support their customers in what are extraordinary circumstances will see the demise of Rightmove. We will never forget and never forgive.

    Do not pay Rightmove next month. They cannot take everyone to court.

    Rightmove – payment holidays do not mean freebies they mean deferred payments. DO THE RIGHT THING!

    Report
    1. Property Pundit

      ‘They cannot take everyone to court.’ Wanna bet?

      Report
  11. Murray Lee

    we are right behind this measure

     

    In NW London we have now a group of 15-20 agents who have agreed to “stand together” and back this pressure

    Both myself and 1 other agent have been told “we will have some news for you in the next 24/48 hours”and for us to “hold off any action for the moment”

    If you want to join our small but growing pressure group please email me at murray@dreamviewestates.co.uk

    “together we are stronger”

     

    Report
    1. AtomicPea

      I have emailed. A WhatsApp group would be good. 

      Report
      1. Murray Lee

        Great thanks
         
        Id rather leave it as a email…then you see the companies involved and I think that says more
         
        Which comany was yours?

        Report
        1. AtomicPea

          Be careful giving company names on here. Miles probably has a profile!! I have emailed you. Good luck.

          Report
          1. Murray Lee

            Fair point
             
            But whats he going to do…cancel my contract LOL
            If you are 1 of the 4 emailed this moring I have added you
             
            You should have had a “welcome” email
            If not leave a message again

            Report
  12. JW

    The shareholders of Rightmove are drunk on greed. Drink (or profits in this case) impairs reasoning – all they’ll be desperate for is more. Expect no change

    Report
  13. Punch in The Face

    I’m a one office agent that is only 6 months old and have written to RM and Zoopla. This could be the downfall of RM but we must all do this together. The corporates will stay on RM as they get massive discounts £125 per office per month whereas I’m £1400 with sales and lettings.

    let’s do this.

    Report
    1. Marketshare

      Hi, do you mind if I ask how many offices you are?  I have been with Rightmove for a long time and have the essential package at £1475.  I run a 5 branch network.

      Report
    2. Murray Lee

      Please join us
       
      4 more already joined this morning
       
      Over 20 now

      Report
      1. Punch in The Face

        Just emailed you. Only one office but happy to do what i can.

        just received an email regarding a deferred payment.

         

        Report
        1. Marleyandme

          Im also one girl one office outfit. I received my email from David at Rightmove today and this was my response:
          Dear David,
          I have to say this is disappointing and I don’t feel Rightmove understand the true impact of what this virus could do to our economy. Deferring payments isn’t enough. The government are offering grants and wiping off business rates, not offering 3  – 6 month support which has to be paid back the same. This will just offer a short delay for agents then cause a double bill for the next few months to pay you back, which will then cause further cash flow problems for businesses. Not only that, you have criteria on this offer! How ridiculous! This is not inclusive or helpful at all!
          Very disappointing, I do hope you will take my feedback on board alongside many more disappointed agents that are likely to write to you over the coming days.
          Yours faithfully,
          Christina
          I then went one further and emailed my rep the same, and asked her what my cancellation policy was. within minutes the rep called and said she was having a meeting with a virtual manager – about now =- and would see what she could do.

          send yuor complaints and notices to: ‘customersupport@rightmove.co.uk’ and copy in your rep. There is no dedicated complaint email I can find, but this got me a response. I’ll report back if they help me in anyway., failing that, I’m off!

           

           

          Report
          1. Murray Lee

            Well said Christina

            I am building a group of angry and disappointed agents to complain

            Our band is growing

             

            You would be most welcome to join us and I may use your email as a great template

            Im not allowed to add my email but it is in some of the responses above for other comments

            Im also not to hard to track down 🙂

             

            Report
            1. MGEA

              I have emailed Murray and can only hope that many others join in to. Enough is enough.

              Report
  14. Jrsteeve

    Just serve notice. You should have more faith in your own ability and acknowledge that it’s you/your firm selling the property, not rm!

    Report
    1. Property Pundit

      Hear, hear.

      Report
  15. ash.krishan@deeds-property.com

    Rightmove has just increased our monthly package.  When I questioned them about it, I got their usual sales pitch. Their answer to price increases in similar to a call centre where they read a script.  They always resort to buying add ons and how that is the answer to everything.

    Report
  16. J1

    Zoopla
     
    Beat RM to it and you will overtake them.
     
    OTM is not the answer as it has no cash and no MD

    Report
    1. Property Pundit

      Have you left RM yet?

      Report
  17. Marketshare

    For those of you giving notice don’t forget that Rightmove requires a full calendar month.  it seems that everything they do is somewhat ‘sly’,  If you give notice on March 31st you are out of your contract on May 1st.  If you wait an extra day and give it on April 1st then you’re waiting until June 1st for your contract to end.

    I have already stripped all my offices (5) down to the essentials package (sales and lettings £1475pcm) and I am now considering taking all but one away from Rightmove.  I will use both Zoopla and OTM instead at a cost saving of around £1200 per month per office.

    The only reason I am keeping one is for my new homes clients but I have some great stats showing that our own social media posts outperform RM Local Home Page and Featured Agents banners by around 100:1 (in regard to clicks through to our microsite).  I will be sharing our stats with my new homes clients.

    I would love to think that Rightmove do the right thing and offer a payment holiday but past dealings tell me otherwise.

     

    Report
    1. Typhoon

      Coronavirus will fundamentally change all of that folks. Contracts will become worthless. A risk area for us  as an industry is those properties that do still exchange and complete, will we get our commission and if not have we got any money to sue people and if we do and win, have they any one to pay us. probably not because of Coronavirus

      Report
      1. AtomicPea

        What?. Do you think a pandemic makes contracts null & void. If so I’m keeping my house, not paying my mortgage, keeping my lease car etc etc. 

        Report
  18. smile please

    I have heard they will run a credit facility. In effect allowing agents to run up debt. Hardly a help.

    Report
    1. J1

      That will be their deathnell

      Report
  19. purplepatchy

    I’ve just emailed to ask what the plans are for a payment holiday / reduced rates and what our notice period is if they aren’t planning to help us.

    Every eye reader needs to do this today… it’s the only way they will listen.

    Report
  20. Rebel

    Rightmove = self-serving scum. I do not know how M*l*s Sh1tsh1te dare show his face.

    Report
  21. Ashtonscomplete63

    I agree with all the above we will be serving notice today unless they introduce a payment holiday this is our chance as an industry to finally stop being taken advantage of if we all get together yes uncertain times but it will bounce back lets come together NOW

    Report
    1. Murray Lee

      Please join us Toghther we are stronger murray@dreamviewestates.co.uk

      Report
  22. Steviex

    Haven’t heard from RM for months and months apart from a few condescending emails on how to run my own business.
    This could be a massive turning point in  RM and if Zoopla were clever enough they’d offer a payment holiday now. I was looking back at some old accounts from 2012 this week to see my RM subscription at £295 now £1800

    Report
    1. Murray Lee

      I remeber when it was FREE
       
      I was part of EST8 a Norweigian set up that started portal advertsing in 1995 (I think) and was free
      Income was from banner ads
      Soon were raken over by RM and also free….for a while…
       
      Those were the days
      Please join us Stevie

      Report
      1. Steviex

        I will. I’ll try to mobilise as many agents in my area too. We have a few quite large independents and many multi office agents that have been grumbling yesterday 

        Report
  23. Stuart

    I’m keeping it simple guys my monthly payment will stop… I cant afford to pay 1300 pm when I’ve little or no money coming in.  
    Other than wages it’s my single biggest outgoing and that includes the mortgage on my larger than usual agents office..
    They can sue me   my no1 priority is the survival of my business..

    Report
    1. MGEA

      Hi Stuart. As a small independent I share your frustrations. I am tired of convincing myself it is worth it and RM is my online employee for each office. It is a joke and I now feel like an even bigger mug as they are clearly the only ones laughing.

      Report
      1. Stuart

        Hi mate…as per my other posts.. I cancelled my DDM, gave the laughable “account manager” 10 seconds of my time when he called me today…. I asked “what do you want !”.he was told to get their act together…. it’s not in my nature but I was super abrupt then put the phone down on him… end of story for me guys… simple   do likewise… what they going to do sue us all… yea right…

        Report
  24. MillicentBystander

    Shame that it’s taken such an event for agents to FINALLY take action against Rightmove. It also beggars belief that agents STILL promote RM/Z/OTM logos on their own website (some fools even include links away from their own sites!)
    C’mon folk… #takebackcontrol

    Report
  25. Silver Fox

    Well said Rob. Time for agents to take a stand!

    Report
  26. Robert Sargent

     
    To readers of the above article and other agents that haven’t posted comment; my office phone has rung off the hook this morning! Anybody who would like to share thoughts and ideas both on RM and the challenges we all face, both inside and outside the work place, feel free to contact me directly on robert.sargent@acorngroup.co.uk
     
    I will do everything I can to react further to ideas and questions in the next 48 hours.
    Robert Sargent

    Report
    1. Murray Lee

      Hi Robert

      I have emailed you direct

      Lets join forces!

      Report
      1. MGEA

        I have emailed Murray and will forward the same email to Rob.
        I hope others out there join in and we finally deal RM the blow they deserve #enoughisenough and maybe some sort of joint petition is needed to make them realise

        Report
  27. smile please

    Breaking news, RM is now sending emails out offering credit facility.

    £500 deferred payment for 3 months or £275 for 6 months.

    Proper drug dealers catching us on tick now!

    This does not help only worsen the problem.

    Report
  28. surrey1

    Glad we cancelled a while ago. Given us a bigger war chest for coming months.

    Report
  29. Jacko03

    I’ve sent the email this morning and will unite all the local agents around me. Either give us six months off or we’ll serve notice. Let’s hope they react.

    Report
  30. Bolton Agent

    Just in from Rightmove

     

    Estate and lettings agents have shown great resilience through some challenging market conditions, but COVID 19 is an unprecedented situation and so we want to offer support, particularly around cash flow issues. Cash flow may become a challenge for agents until activity picks up again and transactions work their way through to completion.

    That’s why we’ll be offering all qualifying agents the option to sign up to a deferred payment scheme for their existing membership package.

    What that means:

    The scheme will give qualifying agents the option to defer the payment of £275 per branch of their monthly invoiced costs each month for six months. The amounts deferred would be paid back evenly over the same term after six months of the first deferral period.

    Agents also have the alternative option to defer payment of £500 per branch of their monthly invoiced costs each month for three months, paid back evenly over the same term after three months of the first deferral period.

    Report
    1. JW

      Amounts to diddly-squat!

      Report
    2. forwardthinker

      HA HA! I rubbed my eyes and read the e-mail from them twice this morning

      Report
  31. PeeBee

    Just seen on Twitter:
     
    “We aren’t customers… we are numbers in a cash cow money making process”
     
    How sad that a paying customer feels that way about their service supplier.
     
    Imagine if all of your vendors felt that way.  Your businesses wouldn’t last three months.
     
    You wouldn’t get any repeat business… no recommendations…  no glowing reviews.
     
    In short…
     
    …no future.

    Report
  32. Property Ear

    How very mean and stupid. This is likely to seal their fate.

    Report
  33. forwardthinker

    This is it… Come on Rob you should issue notice. Many will follow   Remember Rightmove?? 🙂 Remember the day… The death knoll is sounding   Possibly the best own goal ever seen?!
     
    I would love to have been around that RM table, invisible just listening to how they played this one out. Such a poor and futile decision

    Report
    1. Stuart

      I just cancelled my DDM, my so called account manager called me, he was told no dice unless they do something constructive.. phone down..  keep it simple….only way they will listen guys !

      Report
  34. padymagic

    so rightmove has gone in to banking and lending to their customers, a differed payment is a loan, is it not?

    Dear rightmove,

    do you have a licence to operate as a bank?

    I rather think rightmove has discovered the breaking point of their customers, therefore they are now unable to increase their fees in the future (not for a few years at any rate).

    Report
  35. DASH94

    All of us must be looking at wage bills and staffing levels – RM is a persons salary.  It’s not rocket science really.

    Report
  36. Budgie boy

    Goodbye, you’ve just signed your own death warrant.

    Report
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