Why is the UX (user experience) of Rightmove so poor, compared to OnTheMarket?
There have been sustained rumblings in the property community once again as Rightmove relentlessley looks to increase its income by raising fees to its paying clients. Given its stranglehold position, many are paying up and just see it as the price to do business.
But in my day job I deal with property techonolgy all day long, working shoulder to shoulder with Proptech founders as the solve problems in all verticals of real estate, the plan, build, sale, lease and management of the property asset.
So mixing metaphors, when I ‘drive around’ Rightmove, as I often do looking for new inventory to buy, I do so like in a Stig like manner, being aware of the very top line innovation in the portal space, and to be frank, the Rightmove UX (user experience) is akin to driving a first generation Skoda. It is a clunky and painful ride.
In my opinion, and I have no commercial link to Jason Tebb, as he is not a client of mine, OTM out of all the property portals represents the best value out there, and it is clear that it is being run by a an ex-property professional, this knowledge guides Jason’s battle to help agents and other clients of OTM to modernise their businesses, and he is delivering a great UX to the end client.
Contrast this with the outdated Rightmove journey, when looking to find a property, this interface is a decade out of date, and like driving a first generation Skoda, in contrast OTM are testing out in Beta mode, the ability to ‘talk’ to their portal and use technology which replicates the neural pathways of the human brain, so supporting innovative OTM Vs paying 17% increased fees to Rightmove for the same old ‘tosh’ is a no brainer.
If you ask the public what Rightmove or any other property portal does? – the answer would probably be it sells or lets property – wrong – it is a classified advertisement business. A digital billboard for property, let me explain.
When I started in agency we would spend a huge amount of monthly revenue on newspaper advertising, putting our housing stock into local newspapers (and other property based publications even the national press). It was time consuming collating all the information for the newspapers, but it helped get instructions as it both acted as a showroom for buyers who read the newspapers or classified property advertisements, and showed potential vendors and landlords that we were dominant in our area at selling and letting so they should use us.
In the late 1990’s someone had the bright idea that instead of listing inventory in newspapers, digital was the way, listing property by area, price and property type, and after cloud computing exploded around 2004, Rightmove was off to the races.
Interestingly in the beginning its genesis was around estate agents, with Harry Hill the then CEO of Countrywide being a huge advocate. Rightmove started in May 2000, with the rightmove.co.uk site going live in July 2000. Its original stakeholders who took shares were Countrywide plc, Halifax, Royal & Sun Alliance and Connells. Six years later it IPO’d on the LSE becoming Rightmove plc. A year later buying into Holiday Lettings Limited.
A year later HBOS sold their shares and over the years so did the other original stakeholders. The company is the darling of the LSE as it makes around a 70% margin of gross profit, whilst year on year increasing its revenue – it is the king of the Saas model.
But, Rightmove has stood on its laurels for far too long, with agents being pressed to pay more and more for what is in my opinion is less and less. Maybe with a changing of the guard, from CEO Peter Brooks Johnson to Johan Svanstrom as the new CEO who started last March, we may see a very new Rightmove model being unveiled.
Blockbuster and Netflix went head to toe, Blockbuster was the monied Goliath and thought Netflix which also started as a video rental play was just renting movies to folk. In fact using AI and ML Netflix was delivering a far deeper UX as it listened and understood the changing needs of its consumer marketplace and provided it. Sounds familiar?
Rightmove has just been making more profit by squeezing its agent consumers, the public are unaware or would not care, but if they had a viable alternative Rightmove agents would exit as they are getting no extra value. Estate agents, especially with mortgage costs doubling in a year and inflation at 11%, need to be stripping out costs, driving new revenue and adding value to their clients, and identical trajectory that portals should be on.
Any property technology company that can truly deliver a service that demonstrably can provide this will win big at the casino. And that win is all about bringing consumer delight for the B2C play, the end users, these tech savvy new generations who askew lumpy slow roads, jump on Revolut banking software as it gets them fiscally from A to B quickly.
They hate going to a property portal website populated with inventory that has the tiniest amount of data, forcing them to interface with agencies who are creakingly inefficient. Jason Tebb for my money is leading the way as he is listening and taking notice, Zoopla want to monetize some more of the property journey, the question is will agents like it? and Rightmove with its cash rich model has two choices, more of the same or de-risk the business model before someone else steals the future.
Property technology – estate agents it is time to climb on board
If there was ever a time to realise that you can do little about the cyclical nature of bull and bear housing markets, but you can automate your agency operations so that you are nurturing all opportunities 24/7, it would be now.
As a NED of nurtur.accelerator, an enterprise which looks to breathe life into best of each vertical in real estate solutions, clearly the market is at a point of inflection, and new ways to do all things, should be looked at and where appropriate added to an agents toolbox.
Yes the personal contact and client management by humans is important, but the digital transformation of realestate that I have been banging on about for nearly seven years has come of age, and tech enabled agents will weather this current storm and the other storms that come better than analogue agents using systems based upon the last century.
As we see ‘Threads’ may or may not become a thing, 32M new users in a blink of an eye can make a new way to do something – the way to do something, technology can and will reshape the world of agency, the question is are you an early adopter, follow the crowd, or coming to the party at a later stage, risks and rewards for all of these strategies.
Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.