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Portal war hots up as Covid and Brexit hit the overseas market

The Negotiator looks at the two main pro-active players in the UK-based overseas property portal market - Rightmove and A Place in the Sun.

Nigel Lewis

apits jasmine harman property portal

Property portal wars in the UK are a familiar part of the industry as a litany of challengers have, with varying degrees of success, taken on Rightmove.

But there is a second portal battlefield that’s less well documented – overseas property in which, like the UK market, only a handful major players hold sway, battling over some 180,000 global listings of which 60% come from Spain.

These are Rightmove and A Place in the Sun, which is linked directly to the Channel 4 daytime TV show that’s famous for presenters such as Amanda Lamb, Jasmine Harman (pictured) and Jonnie Irwin.

Rightmove last week reported that its overseas business had been hit hard by the Covid lockdowns and Brexit uncertainty, with leads up by just 2% year-on-year. This operation has also been ‘restructured’ in preparation for the pent-up demand due to flood the market when Covid is over.

It’s a different story at APlaceintheSun.com, which has continued relatively unscathed.

andy bridgeIts MD Andy Bridge (pictured) says enquiries last year were up 26% year-on-yearn and site users up 36%, with an even greater surge of enquiries and users seen during the first few months of 2021.

Bridge says this is down to the rush of buyers seeking to complete property purchases in Spain and France ahead of the Brexit last year so they could qualify for residency purposes, as well as the end of a ‘golden visa’ scheme in Portugal.

But it’s also down to his website’s more Zoopla-like approach to the industry.

“We’re like Zoopla because our business is more vertically integrated and earns revenues from a variety of different purchase points from agents, developers and other players, as well as listings” says Bridge.

“With our webinars, exhibitions, magazine and online content we’re trying to keep buyers with us right through the process rather than just somewhere where they look to buy a property and create a sales lead, which is what Rightmove does in this space.”

For A Place in the Sun, that includes its recently-launched branded foreign exchange currency business.

“Not only does this give us revenue at the end of the process, but it’s such a powerful tool for getting agents onboard with us,” he says.

“All of our activity is about keeping close to the approximately 500 agents we deal with and engaging with them at every point in the sales journey, which none of our competitors do.”

March 3, 2021

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