Ultimate Visual Guide to Property Portals in the UK

November 25, 2022
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The UK's property market is an interesting one: powered by a mammoth portal, flush with challengers and regional portals to choose from and with increasingly squeezed agents who earn a far smaller commission than their counterparts in other countries.

Online Marketplaces collects data on every portal in the UK, and also keeps an eye on the stories coming out of the hyper-competitive industry.

Here's everything you need to know about UK property portals—take your pick on which one you'd choose for a property move!

 

How many property portals are there in the UK?

A lot! By Online Marketplaces' count, there are at least 20 operating in England alone, with even more regional portals across Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

List Of Uk Portals

New portals pop up fairly regularly, but there are some big boys on the playground who are difficult to beat...

 

Which are the biggest property portals in the UK?

Rightmove is the biggest portal in the UK and the most profitable portal in the world. A household name and the "go-to" for house buyers and sellers across England, Scotland and Wales, Rightmove has been around since 2000 and boasts massive listings volumes and monthly website visits.

Zoopla is the number two player in the UK and where Rightmove has focussed on its core business of listing homes, historically Zoopla has focused on adjacent revenue streams like price comparison and agent software products to differentiate itself.

The third biggest player in the UK is OnTheMarket. It is a 60% agent-owned portal, and its most famous offer is its "Only With Us" feature, which exclusively showcases properties 24 hours before they ever go live on Rightmove or Zoopla.

OnTheMarket challenges the traditional duopoly of Rightmove and Zoopla, and the portal has grown in popularity since it launched in 2015 thanks in no small part to the PR efforts of its ex-agent CEO Jason Tebb who we interviewed earlier this year...

 

The final portal worth mentioning here is "challenger portal" Boomin, which recently hit the headlines when it went bust just two years after launch. It's a reminder of how competitive the portal landscape is in the UK that well-heeled portals can still struggle to get their foot in the door.

Also worth noting is PropertyPal, a significant regional player in Northern Ireland. It's no Rightmove, but it's good to see local market leaders outside of England.

 

Which property portal in the UK has the most traffic and agents?

Here's the breakdown. Nobody needs two tries to guess which portal gets the most traffic month to month:

Uk Portal Traffic

Although compared to other portals around the world, UK portals aren't very forthcoming on their listing numbers (the last time Rightmove told investors in 2020 it was '1 million+'), some of them do have to disclose the number of agencies that list properties with them. Rightmove is the winner here as well although it seems to have hit a ceiling when it comes to the number of customers on its books recently.

Rm Vs Otm

How old are the UK's biggest property portals—and who's in charge?

Here's the breakdown.

Uk Portal Ceos

And here's a look at Rightmove's shareholders. It's a public company, so the company is legally required to share this information.

Rightmove's outgoing CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson is worth an estimated £110 million in company shares! He won't be CEO for much longer after announcing his retirement in May 2022—with Expedia Group veteran Johan Svanström joining in 2023.

Rm Shareholders

 

How do property portals in the UK make money?

The UK portals follow the traditional business model—real estate agents pay a subscription fee, which allows them to upload and advertise their available properties.

Most portals offer different pricing packages for agents who want to advertise their stock more prominently, or from multiple offices in different locations. It's a very successful model backed by some powerful network effects for the big portals and in Rightmove's case it has earned shareholders a lot of money over the years.

Rightmove Share Price Screenshot

Rightmove's share price. Credit: Google Finance

However, the portals aren't immune from criticism. Rightmove in particular has faced a number of complaints over the year for consistently raising its prices to agents who rely on Rightmove to find buyers. Rightmove's initial reaction to the pandemic-induced lockdown in the UK brought particularly sharp complaints.

 

What user-friendly features do property portals in the UK have?

When we looked at the UX features of 650 portals around the world in 2021, we found that UK portals are fairly user-friendly on the whole compared to portals in other countries.

Uk Portals Ux Features Screenshot

They don't have all the bells and whistles of the U.S. market leader, Zillow but they have all upped their game and brought out new filters and features since we did the study last year.

There's a thriving 'proptech' industry in the UK that is bringing new products and services to market every day, some of which UK home hunters might see on property portals in the not-too-distant future.

 

What have UK portals been in the news for lately?

The UK market has struggled in 2022, with increasing interest rates and inflation setting back many businesses.

The biggest story is that challenger portal Boomin has gone bust just two years after launch. Boomin was launched to users in 2021 by Purplebricks founders Michael and Kenny Bruce, but the company struggled to monetise. Boomin called in administrators in October 2022, with a rumoured 65 job losses.

Zoopla has entered consultation periods—where the company discusses making employees redundant on a voluntary basis—three times this year, as the UK struggles with high inflation and interest rates.

On the other side of the coin, Rightmove continues to deliver massive profits for shareholders. However, the company has regularly received criticism and complaints for consistently raising its prices for agents who rely on Rightmove to find buyers.

Meanwhile, OnTheMarket has had an impressive year after announcing a number of new partnerships and technological advancements.

Otm Profit

Read everything you need to know about the world of property portals, for free on Online Marketplaces!

November 25, 2022
Harvey is an experienced property journalist and copywriter. He has written about the property industry since 2015, starting at The Property Franchise Group in the UK, before moving to Spain to work for Spotahome. He has blogged for the private rented sector, ghostwritten for UK property experts and written case studies for franchise owners around the UK. Harvey joined Online Marketplaces as a News Editor in 2022.

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