Rightmove’s hike in fees: TPFG boss urges agents to act but not to boycott portal

Comments in the exclusive EYE story yesterday about our intention to refer Rightmove to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made for interesting reading.

My view is that if there are agencies, large or small, with genuine grievances, that we should pool our evidence to build a stronger case.

In fact, the evidence from small, independent agents, if available en masse, is far more compelling and invidious to any Rightmove defence, as the CMA sees itself as the champion who can defend David against Goliath.

Big organisations such as ours, which like Righmove is a listed business, have access to resources to fight our corner.

For those agents who are interested, we will soon set out a methodical way of collecting case studies for presentation to the CMA.

We are in the process of taking legal counsel from a QC who specialises in competition law and will explain what evidence the CMA will want to consider.

At this stage, The Property Franchise Group is happy to meet the legal costs in this matter.

If we can persuade the CMA that there is a case to answer, then its own regulatory machinery takes over and it leads the investigation.

This is not a courtroom battle between us and Rightmove, and we should therefore not see a massive legal bill.

Only if there is such a very large volume of evidence to collate and organise to create the CMA submission, then might we pass the cap around for other agents hopefully to make a contribution.

Some of the respondents on EYE have been extremely vocal that now is the time to “punish” Rightmove and remove stock from the site in a protest gesture.

I don’t think that this is the correct approach for a number of reasons:

  • Your clients may expect that their property is being displayed on Rightmove, and you may even have contractually promised such. Your client is your principal and you should not damage their interests, breach their trust or fail to deliver on your contractual promises.
  • I cannot know what you have contractually agreed with Rightmove about supplying it with your available stock and you should be careful not to breach your agreement with Rightmove.
  • I don’t believe that sufficient agents would take the necessary action to make any serious impact on the customer experience.
  • It’s harder than you think, as most agents will have software which auto-feeds properties to Rightmove, typically with only changes to the stock being updated. Therefore, you would have to tell your software company to disable the feed and Rightmove would still hold all of your previously displayed properties on its servers, so the site would not go “blank” – it would just continue to display gradually less and less fresh stock.

We are all professional business people trying to promote our agencies and protect our margins.

We don’t need to take this kind of renegade action.

Instead we should use the CMA route to get a fair hearing for our grievances, and potentially an enduring rebalancing of the commercial power between this dominant supplier and the rest of the industry.

* Ian Wilson is CEO of The Property Franchise Group

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45 Comments

  1. Eastsidestory90

    Well ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been crying for action against Rightmove for years. Here’s your chance.

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    1. Bless You

      Strike strike strike! Just for December. Should hit share price by 10% at least. If on market think Iam going to waste my brexit reserves on keeping them afloat they are wrong. U have until feb …  onmarket still very quiet.

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    2. WestMidsValuer97

      Crying for action?! If you were an agent you’re business would require an outcry in order to see this action being taken….how else do you expect to get something done about it??

      Not so much crying, more standing up to a powerhouse bully.

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  2. Robert May

    The only way to  control a threat and competition is to understand its weaknesses and then outsmart and out-perform it.
    Rightmove’s weakness is it’s profits. Rightmove can not change, adapt or adopt new ideas because its shareholders would not like to see the super excessive profit margin dented or reduced.
    Rightmove is a good product, well known by the public, it simply charges too much and its attitudes towards its customers is appalling. That makes the strategy to beat them fairly simple; charge less and properly respect agents and housebuilders.
    If a supplier can do that most of the battle is won. Knocking together a clunky windows 98 generation website similar to Rightmove is no biggie, lots of people have built those so the only real challenge is getting the  consumer to understand change.
    I’ve got some thoughts on that but will leave those for another day.
    A lot of people  haven’t got to grips with what I’ve built. Those who understand how things can be changed are blown away by the obviousness of it.
    I don’t think agents should come off any of the portals they are on until the next generation is proven and established but I do recommend agents simply pull back to a basic listing only. If Rightmove attempt to say that’s not available anymore, take that to CMA or simply leave.
     
    Treat Rightmove as an irrational dependancy, wean yourself off it at your own pace.
     

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    1. JEL

       ‘wean yourself off it at your own pace’.  Agree with this, use On The Market for longer and longer exclusive periods after a time it just becomes second nature to make Rightmove listing the last job you do rather than the first. Better still just rely on your own mailing list and website. if you explain to people thats the way you work amazingly they’ll give you all their details !!! …. its been said before its just an updated newspaper 

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      1. Robert May

        The last property I sold (executor for an estate) I insisted  it was not to go on Rightmove, 2 agents declined the instruction, the instructed agent had me sale agreed in 4 days, completed in 6 weeks
        None of the properties I have ever bought  have come as a result of a listing or notification through Rightmove. I know to get close and friendly with the agents who sell what I am after. Who do they call first? Me!
         
        Buying property is a competitive thing (the fear of losing the place you want is the cause of the stress) intelligent applicants are simply  daft to wait for the  notification email that alerts their competition to their  prospective new home. Good agents don’t need portals they need instructions and portals don’t do that!
         
         

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        1. JEL

          You are right…listed a bungalow the other day on the way back to base called to see a bloke who calls into the office on occasions just to let him know about it…no hard sell, just letting him know. Ok he wants to view but he might not buy but just think of the position it puts us in. All very positive. No emails, property portals etc etc…you can make things happen without this stuff..

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          1. Robert May

            My marketing tag line… property is people business not a portal business!

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  3. GPL

    It’s a fair comment from Ian Wilson and I’m happy to support, with just one additional comment.

    As in my OTM V1 Campaign I had Zero Interest in promoting myself or my company for any profile/marketing gain, perceived or otherwise.

    So, let’s get on with it and let’s have more “action updates”, “submissions required” etc rather than falling into a cycle of “press releases”.

    Actions speak louder than words!

    I’m sure the vast majority of unhappy agents would be happy to look at a financial contribution to any CMA Submission, should evidence be shown that it is required.

    It’s less about any 1 Agent or Company and more about Our Industry.

    Happy to join your action Ian.

     

     

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    1. ChumpExecutive

      Ian Wilson here under my self-deprecating moniker. I am indeed a chump most of the time. I take the point about action not words, and not creating a platform to promote The Property Franchise Group. I’ll have pulled a practical action plan together with my lawyers on Monday. Hopefully Ros will publish it on Tuesday. The thing is that businesses like ours have the infrastructure to make this happen. We can afford access to top lawyers, we have a PR company, we can read what Rightmove is saying to analysts in the City about its pricing model and intentions on future average spend per customer, and if needs be we can have conversations with those same analysts. In my defence, I did not wake up on Tuesday morning intent on this course of action. Large groups such as ourselves and the corporates have benefitted over time from volume discounts from Rightmove, which have given us a competitive advantage over independent agents. So we have not had the motivation to put the brakes on. However, when my Marketing Director, Kate Toland, who is a consummate professional, ex-Virgin Media and Fitness First, has prepared reasonable questions about Return On Investment for the spend, and the representative clearly is not prepared to justify a request for a rate increase, something snapped. If we, a Plc, can be disrespected like this, I now understand the impotent fury of the independent business owner who has felt powerless over the years to resist price increases and unable to assert that she or he only wants to buy a basic listing at a value price. By Wednesday night I had formed my plan. So cut me some slack for a few more days and I will stop with the PR and get on with the action.  
      Finally, I don’t blame the representative personally. In fact I feel sorry for the individual themselves getting caught up in the cross-fire. This is a cultural issue at Rightmove which must be condoned at the top level. It will be interesting to see if there is a recurrent pattern as to how increases are imposed, as this would be evidence of a “controlling mind” behind a strategy which is sanctioned at Board level.

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      1. GPL

        Ian,
         
        We are all “Chumps” in the sense of who would willingly hold their hand up and shout “I’m an Estate Agent!” …..however thousands & thousands of people in Our Industry do very good work on behalf of their clients and do earn every pound of their fee.
         
        I have worked with both Corporates & Independents so I see both sides in terms of Corporates protecting their position and Independents being squeezed because they don’t have a Collective/Larger Voice.
         
        In reality the “Estate Agent” looks after themselves first/most often because of their in-built “Competitive Gene”.
         
        However, Our Industry is changing and as much as we will never march together in many respects, Rightmove’s dominate position is corrupting/squeezing Our Industry …..in this instance a “Collective Voice” against a Portal Supplier is crucial as Our Industry will never return to Exclusively Offline. High Street Estate Agency delivers the best of both worlds, “Onliners Only” just try to mimic Estate Agency from their “profits today/gone tomorrow” perspective.
         
        OTM may well deliver however, for now, Rightmove’s Annual Price Hike, with most often very little justification, merely confirms that the “Collective Industry” must come together to expose the sharp practice which continues to be played by Rightmove. Rightmove’s arrogance only serves to confirm that they are entrenched in their dominant position and have completely forgotten about the paying subscribers.
         
        I have witnessed the actions of the “double side Estate Agent” for decades, hence I am fiercely in favour of anyone that steps forward doing so for Our Industry. I did so with enormous time/effort and personal expense when I tried to voice against OTM V2 ……for no other reason than Our Industry.
         
        I hope my impression that you are indeed for Our Industry is correct ….you have alluded to the fact that you finally appreciated how the Independent Estate Agent felt when they were not seated at the same table as you and the other larger companies.
         
        I took action and failed however the victory in one sense was that I did try, I hope that your action succeeds as Our Industry as been shafted for far too long.
         
        Looking forward to progress…..    
         
         

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      2. Thomas Flowers

        Thank you for your courage Ian.

        Someone prominent has to make a stand now as history shows that dictatorial behaviour only increases as time progresses.

        It also shows that there becomes a point when all great empires, that rule by the stick, are overthrown.

        I believe that RM has reached this point as their ‘total war’ or blitzkrieg strategy has left their ‘enigma’ communications stretched and exposed their flanks to a number of counter-attacks starting with CMA.

        As all great commanders have shown in the past, you cannot take on an empire with one fixed battle when you have a disunited force, you have to adopt gorilla tactics, that target the most vulnerable aspects of their power and leadership.

        Make no mistake, RM regarded the initial launch of OTM as a declaration of war, they just forgot to tell us!

        Which is probably why they chose to cut our overnight communications together with any former promises and assurances they made on 4th July 2016.

        The time for appeasement has now passed.

        Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Winston Churchill

         

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  4. JonnyBanana43

    Well said Ian, and I agree to some extent.

    A fair start would be for all agents to drop down to the basic package.

    Imagine if every agent in the land dropped to the basic package, no branding, no extras…that would hurt their cash flow massively.

    Having said that, I still have leaving RM as my medium term plan. And I’ll NEVER go back to Xoopla, however cheap they offer it to me.

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    1. swpfc94

      Hi JB43, what is it you dislike about Zoopla?

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    2. dave_d

      I will be dropping to the basic package the first opportunity I get

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  5. smile please

    Encouraging words. I hope you see it through. Happy to help in anyway.

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  6. Chris Wood

    Ian, you will not be surprised to hear you have my full support. I posted late yesterday afternoon with what I am paying RM which, according to them, is the same for everyone. I know that not to be true and suggest everyone adds to that post with the package and cost they are on.

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    1. Aaron

      Have commented our package on that post just now   I dropped down to essential after much advice on here and other forums, hasn’t affected my business or leads at all.

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    2. Rivero

      We come in to the 7+ branch category and are yet to agree a new deal. Therefore posting what we pay now would not be helpful.

      Reading the prices on your post (which are muddied a little with some being on the pre-3 tier Essential/Enhanced/Optimiser model), it would seem that RM are increasing the costs of the 3 new packages multiple times during the same 12 months.

      I’m pretty certain I have 2 ratecards somewhere, one dated Jan 18 and one dated March 18 where the latter is at higher prices…and it sounds ‘Aaron’ and ‘surrey1’ have both been charged at a higher ratecard than the March 18 one.

      It can’t be right…and I’m pretty sure our Board would fully support this action by TBFG in any way possible.

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  7. cyberduck46

    Is it not just a matter of Rightmove offering a better service than Zoopla & OnTheMarket? They say they have 80% of the visitors, not 80% of the paying customers with their competitors having 20%.

     

    I don’t think this is a typical case where a paying customer (the agent) is buying a similar product and one of the suppliers has a large market share. It’s more a matter of RM selling a better solution.

     

     

     

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    1. JonnyBanana43

      I hate to drone on about this – this is simply not true for my agency.
      I now have more leads from OTM than RM – and now, nearly always, they are better quality. I am not, and will never be on Zoopla.
       In the fullness of time Rightmove will realise that OTM is a serious contender and they will have to become less cocky – particularly around fees.  

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      1. Robert May

        You will not convince him, don’t try. The passive inmediary listing firms are parastically reliant on the portals, anything that challenges that is bad and must be argued to death.

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        1. JonnyBanana43

          Fair enough..! 
          I only tell it as I find it. 
          Might be different for other agents in other areas of the country/stock/quality. 

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          1. Robert May

            You can be 100% correct and post fact you know to be correct but he will argue  simply because you are challenging his perception of things.

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      2. rsvstu97

        Ditto. We receive more leads via OTM than we do RM now. I was the first agent in my town to stop paper advertising. Typically they used it against us for a while. 3 years later most have followed suit. I will probably be the first to ditch RM. We have already removed all their marketing material.

        I too pay £1050 per month.

        We created the monster and we can destroy it. But only by working together. And that will never happen and they know it.

        My brother runs four offices and has been advised this month that his bill will increase but £1000 per month.

        By allowing the likes of PB on RM even though they do not have an High Street office they have stitched us all up. It gave PB the traction they could not have achieved without and suppressed our fee income at the same time.

        Thanks RM.

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    2. AgentQ73

      Hi Cyberduck

      I think you misunderstood my post the other day, apologies if i wasn’t clear.

      You said you run a proxy to monitor new instructions from PB, I asked if you also monitor how many properties they sell, how many they reduce, how many withdraw without selling etc ?

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    3. Property Pundit

      Absolutely clueless…as expected.

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  8. Countrybumpkin

    Let’s indeed treat rightmove as suggested. After all estate agents were up in arms when far cheaper on line services were offered. Most of us were saying what we actually offered compared to the ‘take away’ equivalents. (That’s what RQ is up to… A Drive Through !!) . However rightmove must adjust as they are so very expensive 300%+ more than their competitors and very soon will be in room 101 with the waste paper if they don’t consider their paying customers more fairly.

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  9. htsnom79

    Most angling shops are at the **** end of town or on an industrial estate, fishermen go there.

    Bought my first flat from a basement agent, a vanity project for somebody already wealthy thanks to daddy, I think only other agents knew he was there.

    Bought my last car via Gumtree, not advertised on AutoTrader.

    Serious buyers go where the stock/product is.

    Most of the population ( outside of our echo chamber ) don’t give a stuff about rightmove, and never will until they want to buy or sell, when that happens they’ll use whatever they can to achieve the desired result.

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  10. downdoobydodowndowndubaduba

    I still think a simple action for us all would be to stop promoting rightmove at every turn and giving them vast amounts of free advertising.

    Probably all your windows have numerous Rightmove posters, and same as us you probably have Righmove on every email you send out and it’s us that push people to Rightmove – there is an easy answer to that and I will be removing all but one very small Rightmove poster from our windows – I may not even leave 1.

    I agree totally that it’s time for us all to do something collectively through CMA and agree we should all publish what we pay them. As I noted yesterday we are just under £1,500 ( including VAT) per month.

    Rightmove have created a monster that we have to unsubscribe to other portals just to be able to afford Rightmove – very clever tactic from them!  I hope they will get their come uppance soon. – or start playing a fairer game

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    1. new life

      I work in aTPFG office and have never had a poster or any referal to a property portal until recently which is our open closed sign provided and agreed with OTM as part of our listing deal with them ,

       

      we made Rightmove and Zoopla etc without us they have no business model Rightmove anyway , when the internet was in its infancy people said it wont work and continued to use newspapers how wrong were they ,we as an industry created a monster continued to feed it and are now complaining because its become too big and started to bite the hand that feeds it.

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  11. Property Ear

    You can be sure the Rightmove hierarchy have been reading these posts.

    If they have read and digested these latest developments, they should employ some common sense and act NOW, or they will surely regret it.

    They’ll have a few problems with this, the main one explaining it to the shareholders but they’ll have a lot more to answer for if it dies the quick death it’s destined for right now.

    So get your heads out of the sand guys, these latest price hikes represent a very sharp knife poised to kill your golden goose.

     

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  12. J1

    Rightmove is like a huge bully in the playground

    They take everyone’s dinner money and then say “what are you gonna do about it. Think you’re ard enough are yer?”

    ”Oh and by the way I am coming back for more tomorrar”

    And guess what we still pay.

    Their arrogance is truly appalling; their service is non existent, and their product has not moved forward in years – can’t even display new technologies like VR on their app is shameful.

    PS they will still be here in ten years as agents are too afraid to act

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    1. gardenflat

      PS they will still be here in ten years as agents are too afraid to act
       
      In the past yes but confidence is growing, throw in the CMA, throw in the ones that have already left and are giving notice and more will follow.

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    2. Robert May

      Think you’re ard enough are yer?  there is only one way to find out. What I do know is one of my agents has been saving over £2k every month for 30 months, has added 0.2% to their average fee and is selling properties in price brackets above where they were.

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  13. Jay 1

    Now is the time to act boycott boycott boycott have a spine and dont let yourselves be held to ransom !!!
    Rightmove been doing this for years holding agents to ranson and increasing charges year on year!
    They have one interest and one interest only which is profit they do not care about agents especially single independants who cannot hold them to account and there voice will not get heard. They’re ripping us off the only way to stop this abusive and blatant disregard of our hard earned income. Is to go to the alternative companies then the power they have will soon diminish they will be begging us to come back offering 50% less to what they’re charging now trust me.
    We have used them from the very begining for last 18 years and fees increase every year now they want to charge us £2500 a month ok rightmove sure, dont make me laugh! Their directors are probably falling off their chairs now.
    This company makes net profit £144 million with £243.3 million revenue do you really thing they care about anyone but themselves ! come on wake up smell the coffee. Its a costly cup let me tell you !
    Thanks  Wrongmove

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  14. J1

    Lets be realistic. There are 30 or so comments about this on here today and about 80 yesterday.  Rightmove will not be bricking themselves, nor will they give too hoots about the comments on here. As a percentage of their customer base the number of dissenters on PIE is minuscule = no change in attitude or policy from Rightmove.
    PS GIVING MYSELF A THUMBS DOWN FOR THIS ONE

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  15. WiltsAgent

    It’s not about punishing rightmove. It’s about running your business in a way where you are not held to ransom by a supplier. All credit to Ian for being the first in a large chain to make an effort to stand up to them but I think you will waste a lot of time, effort and money and get nowhere.

    All they will understand is if the properties are withdrawn. Otherwise they couldn’t care less and will just do a damage limitation exercise and sign you up for the best deal they can get.

    Without wishing to offend Ian, it’s delusional to think they are going to be reasonable given their attitude to their customers over the last five years.

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  16. Ric

    It is a shame agents will not share costs for the area and coverage paid to RM.

    My dilemma is “I pay for 4 offices covering the same area as 1 or 2 agents close to me who have just 1 RM account covering the same post code.

    I can only assume they are not paying the combined sum of my 4 offices!

    So when I ask RM to quote me on 1 account for my company I end up with it will cost the same as I pay now because I have an office in the public can walk in to. They say I am just cheating.

    This to me is SO unfair, as surely me having 50 offices on 1 high street is my choice! and should not effect my choice of how many accounts I choose to have with RM.

    I am soon to be taking this argument even further, as RM to further my pain, create “SSTC certificates” which therefore mislead, as they do not allow a company to choose “a combined sales total over 4 offices” and rank you individually which plays in to the hands of the one office company.

    Phase 2 if you ask me,

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  17. GPL

    I’m interested in the CMA option whilst also having no problem with a Rightmove “Blackout”.
     
    We control our own listings in the sense that they can be marked “Live” or “Non-Live” …..which is what I did when RM decided they managed me rather than me selecting them for portal services.
     
    So, let’s see the “momentum/progress” of Ian Wilson …..rather than shoot/support then shoot it again before it has a chance to fly.
     
    If we gave up before we started on everything we would still be in caves chasing dinosaurs and dreaming of being able to strike a fire.
     
    Let’s see whether “The Spartacus Action” has legs….. (try and resist the “Sandals” comment!!!)  
     
     

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  18. Peter

    There is something so familiar about reading some of the post of yesterday and today, ah yes, People’s Front of Judea and their resolutions! So, playing devil’s advocate  –  What have Rightmove ever done for us?

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    1. GPL

      Gaveth you a portal when there was none….?
      Problem was you never questioned the path of their portal…. you simply followed like sheep, each buying a better herd than the other…..
      I just bought the basic sandals from Day 1 …..because the light I saw was shining out of their heavenly portal!
      Judas came in the form of Ian, beckoning us to The Promised Portal Land, only he spoke “porkies” as he always intended going to The Other Promised Land where the rich people enjoy life much, much better than the peasants.
       
      …..and there, Peter, endeth the lesson.
       
       

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  19. HITMAN

    Am I missing something?

    We all had an opportunity to leave Rightmove over 5 years ago and joint OTM with the one other portal rule!  the majority that did mostly dropped Zoopla, I’m sorry to say that I went with the majority, however, the opportunity has arisen again and I think its now time that agents got together as Ian Wilson is advocating.

     

    After all those who dropped Zoopla have never needed them since, well at least I haven’t and they still keep pestering me. I would drop Rightmove tomorrow if everyone else would!

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  20. downdoobydodowndowndubaduba

    and still another age old question re Purple Bricks / Rightmove.

    How do Rightmove allow some form of collective account for all their LPE’s. Each LPE is self employed and therefore should be paying their own Rightmove account each month – but hat doesn’t happen. !!

    Why do they get preferential treatment?

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  21. ProperttyCompare.com

    The Revolution Begins

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