You just have to spend 10 - 20 min surfing the UK property blog sites to see comments like this "The agents in our area have started talking about withdrawing from rightmove as a whole and going to the free sites, such as globrix, mouseprice, nestoria etc, as rightmove seem to be unwilling to acknowledge the climate and drop their prices. The only way we can encourage rightmove to drop their prices is to work together."
On the surface this doesnt look good for rightmove.co.uk. The problem is exacerbated in January when a reported 50 percent of rightmove.co.uk's agents have their annual contracts come up or renewal. In a recent Telegraph article, Ed Williams, the Managing Director of rightmove was quoted as saying "We are now in a situation where about 50pc of our customers have a January 1 price and the rest are staggered through the year".
If the speculation is true, rightmove.co.uk could lose 2,700 more agencies.
However i think this is, at most, fear mongering by people in the industry in the hope that rightmove.co.uk panics and drops its prices. This unlikely to happen and perhaps at best, it will put pressure on them not to raise prices too much (if at all).
The reality is that what agents (and people in general) fear more than paying too much for something is they fear missing out on something. Therefore as long as rightmove.co.uk has the most visits, and therefore the most leads, an agents will continue to pay to be on the site. Coming off the site just means that a competitive agency who stays on the site will get more leads - not a smart business decision.
The unknown factor is the irrationality of customers. There will always be people who do something that is irrational. If this is the case, some agents will switch away from rightmove.co.uk to other sites in the hope that they can save a few pounds. This is an opportunity for the propertyfinder.com and findaproperty.co.uk's of the world who can ramp up their marketing efforts for Janaury in the hope of encouraging agents to switch from rightmove.co.uk.
The challenge for rightmove.co.uk will be to ramp up appropriately for massive renewals in January. They should look at how they can get people onto 2 or even 3 year ageements and therefore lock in revenues for a period longer than a year. They will also need to undertake a charm offensive to ensure that those irrational agents dont switch.
The full year results for rightmove.co.uk will make for interesting reading.