Rightmove said last night that it is to review membership of US franchise firm Keller Williams.
The firm is one of the largest property firms in the world, with over 139,000 ‘associates’ and some 790 ‘market centres’ in 13 countries.
Keller Williams, which arrived in the UK in 2013 and has three ‘market centres’, has totally defended its stance. In the UK it is headed by Ben Taylor, who joined in May, and was previously a senior figure with Countrywide, heading up John D Wood.
EYE had relayed to both Rightmove and Keller allegations from an agent who told us that a local lettings business it dealt with had revealed that if it set up a sales department, it could get listings on Rightmove for £250 a month “via” Keller Williams.
EYE was told by the agent that, as they themselves paid hundreds more each month for Rightmove listing, they were annoyed to be told this, and raised it with their Rightmove rep, who categorically denied this was the case.
However, the agent – who we have agreed not to name – supplied us with links which appear to show an agent outside London was also a property consultant with Keller Williams, based in York Street, London W1. We sent these links on to Rightmove.
Yesterday evening, a Rightmove spokesperson told us: “Rightmove’s membership terms and conditions state that customers cannot sell on our services to third parties.
“We are reviewing this customer to ensure they are adhering to these terms.”
The Rightmove spokesperson confirmed that it is specifically Keller Williams whose membership they are now investigating, rather than one of the agents.
Ben Taylor yesterday evening told us: “Our model provides all of the tools that quality agents need to set up and run their own businesses.
“When they join Keller Williams, our agents establish their own companies but operate from our market centres, and this includes portal costs.
“Our desire is to attract ambitious agents who wish to break away from the traditional model and grow their own business either under the Keller Williams UK banner or indeed their own brand.
“As well as portal costs, our agents get access to world-class training and mentoring, use of our market centre facilities, and membership of an international brand that empowers agents and personifies customer service.”
Keller Williams launched in the UK in 2014. The UK franchise has changed hands since, but the message has not changed – Keller Williams has consistently said it has plans for huge growth in the UK.
Previous claims about third parties selling space on the main portals have mainly related to how private sellers and landlords can market properties.