The small group of 70 independent agencies from around the UK who earlier this week banded together to lobby Rightmove for a more generous relief package has grown to some 250 agencies who collectively have between 400 and 500 branches.
This group, which is led by two North London firms, spent most of yesterday agreeing the wording of a letter which has now been sent to Rightmove. As the letter was emailed to Rightmove’s head office, agents continued to join the group including the CEO of the Acorn group, Robert Sargent.
“For years I’ve been very vocal about Rightmove’s attitude to the hands that feed it, but their tone-deaf response to the Covid-19 pandemic compelled me to shout louder,” he told the members.
“Like you, no doubt, I’m concerned for the future of my business, and Rightmove is one of our primary monthly expenses after staff. “While portals do serve a purpose, I have always maintained that they aren’t as essential as they seem to think they are. It’s people who sell properties, not portals.”
Sargent is inviting all agents to join his separate Say No To Rightmove campaign which, he says, already has 150 members from the industry.
“I haven’t heard back from Rightmove yet but we are hoping that the large number of agents in our group will elicit some sort of response from the them,” says Murray Lee of Dreamview estates, one of the two agents leading the London group’s charge.
Here is the text of their letter.
I am writing to you on my own behalf and the other agents copied in here.
We received your generic email in response to the current crisis and was shocked at its content I was in conversation with Sarah [the portal’s local rep] this morning and voiced my opinion about how poor and derisory this offer was.
She was aware of this and that I was going to write in I have to say this is disappointing and I don’t feel Rightmove understand the true impact of what this virus could do to our business and our economy. Deferring payments isn’t enough. The government are offering grants and wiping off business rates (possibly not for agents !!), not offering 3–6 month support which has to be paid back in due course.
This will just offer a short delay for agents then cause a higher bill for the next few months to pay you back, which will then cause further cash flow problems for businesses. Not only that, you have qualifying criteria on this offer! That is ridiculous! We are YOUR clients and you NEED US to provide the data to keep your portal going.
Its not for us to tell you what business we are doing to claim a deferral. We should not need to prove to you what we are doing. You need to prove to us that you want to keep us as clients. This is not inclusive or helpful at all! For my part your subscription represents the third largest expense I have behind my rent and wages.
Your rates have regularly and disproportionately increased over the years and way above the pro rata charges we have from other portals. You are no doubt well aware Zoopla is about half the cost of your basic package and OTM even less.
Most of us use all three portals – I think we could easily survive only using’ two. I discussed with Sarah how hard you things are particularly for independents, however prior to your email and during the last 24 hours, together with one or two of my local contemporaries we discussed our position and thoughts about what action we could take.
The word has spread through our connections and social media and please, do not be in any doubt companies representing hundreds of branches are contacting me on an hourly basis sharing my sentiments and asking me to take the lead and move this forward with you.
You will see from those copied in this is not a bluff. In fact I believe some may have already given you notice to cancel. We are all genuinely considering giving you notice and withdrawing our data.
Once other agents learn of this, I’m sure others will follow. I’m sorry to have to say this but you have had it all your way in the past with very little regard for us, now is the time to support your loyal clients and help us through what is going to be one of the toughest times on record (and I have been an agent for 47 years so not many know better than me!).
FNAEA MARLA MANAGING DIRECTOR
020 8455 0055 or email