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.
Here's everything you need to know about UK property portals—take your pick.
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.
New portals pop up fairly regularly, but there are some big boys on the playground who are difficult to beat...
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 was founded in 2000 and has the most listings and monthly website visits.
Zoopla is the number two player in the UK. It is slightly different to Rightmove, which focuses on its core business of listing homes, whereas Zoopla has focused on adjacent revenue streams like price comparison and agent software products to differentiate itself.
The third player in the UK is OnTheMarket. It is a 60% agent-owned portal, which makes it the biggest 'challenger' portal in the UK.
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 in 2022 (see below).
Note that since publishing this article, OnTheMarket has been acquired by American giant CoStar Group for $100M—which raises a big question about the future of UK real estate...
Here's everything you need to know about which portal is most trusted by its customers (figures from August 2023):
|Number of Reviews
|Average Score (1-5)
|# Reviews Last 12 Months
Note that OnTheMarket, as a much younger company, has far fewer reviews.
Here's the breakdown according to comparison site Similarweb. Rightmove has the highest monthly traffic, followed by Zoopla:
Rightmove generated £332 million in revenue in 2022 with an impressive £195.7 million of that revenue translating to post-tax profit. Those figures meant that Rightmove was among the most profitable portals anywhere in the world. OnTheMarket generated record revenues of £34.4 million in the same period and made a Net loss of £0.2 million.
Zoopla does not report its financials publicly but according to company filings, Zoopla generated £73 million in revenue in 2021. Filings also show that the company made a significant post-tax loss of £17.8 million for the period.
In July Rightmove reported that it had 19,116 agent customers, a figure which was up 1% year-on-year. On the other hand, in the same month, OnTheMarket told investors that the average number of agents listing on its portal dropped from 13,296 in 2021 to 13,086 in 2022.
As a private company, Zoopla does not normally tell the market how many agent customers it has. However, in December 2021 the portal said in a press release that it had 19,913 agent customers and claimed to have the most rental listings of any UK portal.
The company has not released any information about agent customer numbers since then so any answer to the question of which portal has more agents listing properties on it is pure speculation.
Good question, and the simple answer is no.
However, there's a reason Rightmove is the number one property portal in the UK, and its reputation as the 'go-to' place to search for a property in the UK is a fair one.
However, OnTheMarket has a popular "Only With Us" feature, which exclusively showcases properties 24 hours before they ever go live on Rightmove or Zoopla:
Our advice? Check all three.
Most UK portals follow a 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 to advertise their stock more prominently, or from multiple offices in different locations. For example, Zoopla offers Silver, Gold and Platinum packages.
It's a successful model backed by some powerful network effects for the big portals; in Rightmove's case, it has earned shareholders plenty of money over the years.
We researched the UX features of 650 portals around the world in 2021 and found that UK portals are relatively user-friendly compared to portals in other countries. Zoopla was the most user-friendly of the big three portals in the UK at the time.
Innovations are fairly regular, however, 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.
Interestingly, Rightmove has taken a strong stance on the AI revolution with a high-profile appointment to its boardroom.
Zoopla has had a quiet year in 2023, with some minor innovations and the decentralisation of its customer service team the only headlines for the UK's number two.
OnTheMarket continues to fulfil its reputation as a PR-friendly company, including being named in The Sunday Times 'Best Places to Work' list for 2023, and it has also dipped its toes into the AI space.
Read everything you need to know about the world of property portals, for free on Online Marketplaces!