East London lettings agency boss Kristjan Byfield is famous for his chunky glasses and voluminous blond beard, but his decision to leave Rightmove really ignite a Rightmove rebellion and diminish the influence, and fees, of the portal?
It’s something anyone who read his recent open letter to Rightmove has been wondering.
His efforts have coincided with the formation of at least two informal industry groups which, along with many individual agents, persuaded Rightmove last week to change its fees offer as Coronavirus shut down the industry.
But what drives the boss of Base Property Specialists to lead the charge? In an interview shared exclusively to The Negotiator, he has decided to explain.
“Five years ago I was a big Rightmove fan and I saw it as an important partner within my business; good value and a good return on investment. I would often defend its value in front of other agents,” he says.
“But Rightmove have a problem when it has an unprompted brand ambassador like me who sings their praises but, through its actions, turns that person’s views into the polar opposite.”
Byfield says everything changed last year just before the tenants fees ban began when the portal handed him a 21% fees increase.
He says their position was simple – either pay the increase, cut your package or leave.
But the portal had picked the wrong person to pick a fight with.
“I didn’t let emotion get in the way of my business decision to quit; for us it’s about how many quality leads came in, conversion rates and drilling down into the results,” he says.
“And Zoopla overtook Rightmove four or five years ago in terms of business generated for us, for half the cost.”
Byfield recognises that there have been waves of unrest like this in the past and it’s always come nothing – because everyone says ‘you go first.’
“I always said if I left Rightmove I’d do it publicly. Because I think most people are waiting for someone else to step out into the line of fire.
“I explained it to our clients including our many landlords who were very supportive and then quit when our contract came up for renewal. It’s been great to see the industry come together and it’s a pity it’s taken Coronavirus to do it. But I really hope it lasts.”
Watch the interview in full