An estate agent says that following Rightmove’s latest price hike one of his branches is paying more in its monthly subscription to the portal than rent.
The agent told us: “I regard this as the tipping point.”
The agent pays Rightmove six separate subscriptions – four for sales and two for lettings.
The branch where the Rightmove subscription exceeds the rent is in a sizeable village that has one postcode.
In current market conditions, with a shortage of stock, this branch has under 20 available properties, both sales and rentals.
The agent, who we have agreed not to name, is based in the home counties and believes that a number of agents will now be in his position – paying more to Rightmove per month than in rent for some branch premises.
He says he has been told that he cannot remove just one branch from Rightmove, and that his options are either to pull the whole business off or to close the office down.
He said: “All this for a 21st century portal that can’t show full sales particulars on its mobile app.”
He is also querying why a subscription for one office serving an area with one postcode appears to be paying the same, or more than, an online agent serving the whole of his south-east region, with numerous postcodes.
A Rightmove spokesperson told EYE that agents are allowed to add or remove more locations (ie, branches which may pay for sales or lettings, or both), but must give the same notice as in their overall contract.
He pointed to Clause 10.1 in the standard contract, but did also tell EYE that he had made a note that this should be clarified next time the terms and conditions are updated.
But the agent insisted he had been told that he would have to close the office and provide proof of closure. He described Rightmove as being greedy and ruthless.
However, the Rightmove spokesperson said of the agent paying more in subscriptions than monthly rent: “I totally understand the concern here,
“Every business needs to balance the books and monitor what they are receiving from each supplier.
“We couldn’t comment on the cost of rent of their office as this is very dependent on where in the country they operate from and the type of business unit they have.
“Our goal is to ensure each customer feels they are getting a good return from their Rightmove membership, and if they feel they aren’t getting this then they should contact their Rightmove account manager and discuss that further.”
The spokesperson said that online agents are charged a ‘geographical advertising model’ based on a membership fee plus the number of properties listed on Rightmove, based on their distance from their central location.
Rightmove told its shareholders in its latest results that last year’s advertising revenue per advertiser (ARPA) was £922 per month per branch, up from £842 in 2016. Its profit margin of 75.8% was hailed as outstanding in the City.
However, the agent we have been speaking to says that Rightmove is in danger of biting the hand that feeds it.