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Rightmove refuses agents’ calls for coronavirus payment freeze

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  • 06/04/2020
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Rightmove refuses agents’ calls for coronavirus payment freeze
Rightmove has refused to give way to the demands of more than 900 estate agents who have joined together to campaign for a three month payment holiday during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Say No to Rightmove campaign was launched by Rob Sargent, chief executive of south east London estate and letting agent, Acorn Group, to put pressure on the online property giant to freeze its fees.

Rightmove has instead offered agents a 75 per cent discount on tariffs for four months.

The average monthly advertising spend is £1,088 a month, according to Rightmove.

Zoopla has offered nine months of free usage to agents who promise to leave Rightmove’s portal, as one of three packages. OnTheMarket has given agents a 33 per cent discount on listings for three months starting in April.

Campaigners argue that the huge profits generated by Rightmove have been made possible because of the support from UK agents who have signed up to use the portal.

Rightmove reported an eight per cent rise in revenues to £289m for the financial year ended 28 February. Underlying operating profits also rose by eight per cent to reach £219.7m.

Since it launched on 19 March, the campaign has gained the support of more than 900 agents representing 1,500 offices.

Overall, Rightmove has 16,300 estate and letting agents signed up to its portal.

The refusal to pause the collection of fees, says Sargent, is putting at risk the livelihoods of the businesses that Rightmove relies on. A payment freeze would allow companies to focus on adjusting their cashflow and operations.

Some agents are not waiting around to find out if Rightmove will put payments on hold with some considering cancelling direct debits or serving notice, according to Sargent.

Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, Sargent said: “There is only one way to get value and that is to move away from using the services of one big monster. It takes something like this crisis to make people take a stand when perhaps we should have done this before.

“After staff costs, paying Rightmove’s fees will be the second highest expense to firms. Their income will have gone down to zero over night yet they still have to pay 25 per cent of this tariff. Rightmove needs to wake up quickly and realise this.”

A spokesperson for Rightmove said: “We’ve significantly reduced the fees agents pay us by 75 per cent over the next four months from 1 April, an announcement that has been warmly received by the majority of our 16,000 agent customers.

“In addition to this financial support we’re also helping practically through a series of webinars with experts in the industry that have had over 6,000 attendees over the past three weeks, to help them navigate the various challenges in the housing market. We hope this support will help mitigate some of the impact of the unprecedented situation we’re all facing.”

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