Regulation and oversight of the UK’s dominant property portals may have taken a step forward after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) welcomed government plans to give it more powers.
A consultation launched by the Department for Business has sought to introduce a ‘pro-competition regime for digital markets’. This was a thinly-veiled attempt to clamp down on big digital businesses such as Facebook, Google and Amazon who, although they claim otherwise, have been accused of operating near monopolies.
But the scope of the consultation could easily apply to Rightmove or Zoopla.
As the CMA has now said in its response to the document: “As we set out in the advice of the Digital Markets Taskforce, digital markets bring enormous benefits to consumers, businesses, and the wider economy.
“But competition in these markets is not working as it should. Some large and powerful digital firms are exhibiting signs of entrenched market power in digital markets, enabling them to stifle competition. “This is leading to a worse deal for consumers and businesses and is inhibiting innovation and growth in the UK economy.”
At one point in its response to the consultation, the CMA goes on to say: “Powerful digital firms have built entrenched market power in certain key markets.
“Bolstered by strong network effects, control of valuable data flows and economies of scale, these firms are now in a position to frustrate competition and impose unnecessary costs on consumers, businesses and the wider economy.”
Estate agent Murray Lee of Dreamview Estates (pictured), who last year led one of the groups campaigning to reduce portal power, says: “Considering the longstanding issues agents have had with the two main portals controlling the market, I welcome the CMA’s report.
“Hopefully it will make a fairer marketplace for agents who seem to have no choice and get charged high fees.”