I recently read an article discussing whether agents are becoming increasingly reliant on the major portals when marketing properties. It’s an interesting way of phrasing a problem we’ve seen developing in the market for years.
My personal opinion is that those looking to buy or rent properties are in fact now almost entirely reliant on the major portals when conducting their search. This means that for necessary individuals to see the properties you are marketing as an agent, they need to be on those portals.
The ease at which a property search can be narrowed down and produce results with just the properties that match your criteria has really changed the way in which potential tenants and buyers look, the days of walking up and down a high street to discuss available properties are all but gone.
However, this does bring with it a serious problem, that we see developing year on year with the major platforms and in particular, Rightmove.
In knowing that you have very little choice as an agent, but to advertise on their portals, costs creep up year on year, while engagement and assistance from support and representatives from the companies declines.
Taking Rightmove, as the biggest of the portals, over the last 4 years, it’s clear to see a trend. Our last visit from an Account Manager came in 2016, at which point they switched to a very sporadic telephone only system. Since then, we have seen a year-on year increase, amounting to an increase of over 60% in this time.
In a property market that is increasingly difficult and turbulent, it is clear that these portals know they have agents over the proverbial barrell, with very little option to look elsewhere. As long as the majority of property searches are conducted there, it is where agents have to be.
We have seen new “challenger” portals enter the market to try and disrupt this trend, but the lasting fact seems to be that the big boys in the game hold such dominance that they are hard to shift from their status as household names.
It seems only a matter of time before the business model collapses, from the increasing pressure they place on agents that have seen their margins cut in recent years, but what the other option is can be quite hard to see at the moment. A likely reaction from the more than 17,000 agents predicted to close this year may well be a further price hike to try and recoup some of the losses from having less agents to bill, but only time will tell!
It’s a perfect time to diversify marketing as an agent, but despite pushes into other areas, with around 90% of enquiries that lead to completions coming from the major portals, it’s clear they are here to stay.