OnTheMarket boss Ian Springett has reiterated the portal’s commitment to “fair pricing” – while heavily criticising Rightmove.
In the latest round of portal wars, Springett told EYE: “We recognise that agents are experiencing a tough time with lower than usual transaction volumes; reduced lettings fee income; the possible onset of recession; and the instability from a looming general election with uncertainty around Brexit.
“Our pricing pledge – announced in September – means agents who entered the new five-year listing agreement in February 2018 will enjoy a price freeze for their listings fees in 2020 rather than being charged an increase of up to 5% as allowed for within the agreement.
“Many agents may remember how Rightmove behaved in the difficult years following the 2008 banking crash. UK annual housing transactions fell 44% from over 1.6m in 2007 to 0.9m in 2008 and did not begin to recover until 2012.
“Between 2009 and 2012, Rightmove increased its average fees per advertiser by 72%, taking its profit margin from 63% to 73% in the process.”
As well as blasting Rightmove over its pricing, OTM is also taking it to task over its leads.
Springett said that in September, OTM provided agents an average of 34 leads per £100, compared with Rightmove’s 16 leads per £100 during the first half of this year, based on an average advertising monthly rate per branch of £1,077.
Springett said: “We have heard time and again from agents that OTM’s leads are of excellent quality.”
One agent, Philip Norgan, of Martin Kemps, in Aylesbury, says he dropped Rightmove after analysing leads from all three portals between last June and March this year.
He said that 90% of enquiries from Rightmove for viewings and valuations went on to produce nothing.
He said: “In March 2019, genuine Rightmove enquiries that resulted in a worthwhile opportunity cost £151 each, based on our fee.
“We took the view that it wasn’t working for us and in June we left. It’s been quite evident that business levels have increased rather than decreased.
“Since leaving Rightmove, our staff have more time to do important things, less stress dealing with enquiries which don’t go anywhere and no loss of enquiry levels. In fact, they have increased.
“We have so far saved thousands and know that our analysis has allowed us to streamline our marketing costs to produce the most effective results for our vendor and landlord clients, which means that our business has prospered against a difficult trading backdrop.”
We have invited Rightmove to comment on Springett’s claims.