A director who runs her own small estate agency is urging her competitors to come together and exit Rightmove together because of the portal’s flat fees that she states do not take into account the size of a business or level of transaction.
Christina Mallinder, who runs Vario Estate Agents in Norwich, Norfolk, said she pays over £1,200 a month for a basic Rightmove package with extras on top – amounting to more than the rent of her city office, insurance and professional fees combined.
She said: “I feel like I am working to pay Rightmove, then feed myself and my dog. It’s almost double what I can afford to pay myself in wages each month. It is the most expensive part of my monthly outgoings.
“Rightmove costs the same for me (an independent non-VAT registered, low-income agency as it does for a multi-million-pound branch of my competitors.
“It’s a struggle to stomach, but I soldier on. There were months when I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills next month and my parents bought me food but I made it through.”
It comes as estate agents, fed up with the hold Rightmove has over them, eagerly await the new fee structure of the OnTheMarket, which last month agreed to be taken over by US commercial property analytics giant CoStar Group.
Mallinder said agents themselves had caused the problem of being too reliant on Rightmove, adding: “We have created the issue with making this platform our go-to and the moment an agent tries to step away from Rightmove, competitors make it their first move in stabbing them in the back and pointing this out. You become the target of other agents who say you aren’t on Rightmove.
“So, will agents ever win? Probably not. Until the mindset changes and everybody supports each other and decides to come off Rightmove together.”
Mallinder, who left a large corporate estate agency to go it alone four years ago, said she challenged the fees she was charged with Rightmove, urging them to offer a percentage-based scheme for agents instead.
“Rightmove informed me that I was on the baseline package that was the same as a corporate with hundreds of people; mortgage advisors and say, 15 negotiators on a team.
“I asked Rightmove to consider altering its business model. For every transaction that is listed on the platform and sold they could take a small percentage just like the industry that supports them, allowing them to potentially make a fairer and broader profit.
“They could look after those agents who are having a tough month with income and outgoings – but as usual, this fell on deaf ears.
“I’ll be watching OnTheMarket closely to see what potential is there.”
When EYE asked Rightmove for a comment, a spokesman said: “Our packages include a range of innovative products and tools to support agents in growing their business and winning more vendors and landlords.
“This is alongside providing the best exposure for an agents’ brand and properties to the UK’s biggest home-moving audience.
“If an agent wants to discuss their options, they can speak to their Account Manager to make sure they have the right package and products to suit their business.”
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