Google to launch free estate agency listings in UK

Thursday 3rd December 2009
Written by Rosalind Renshaw
Google is to enter the UK property market in the New Year.

This afternoon, Rightmove shares were down by more than 15% amid suggestions that a new free listing service could be a serious threat to the paid-for portals.

On Monday, Rightmove chairman Scott Forbes made a profit of £1.24m by exercising options on 600,000 shares at 335p. He then sold them at 541.3201p. He still holds 619,000 shares in Rightmove.

Google is known to have been in talks with some agents about its plans, although this morning a Google spokeswoman in London said: “We do not comment on rumour and speculation.”

If the launch – expected within the first three months of next year – mirrors launches in Australia and New York, the service will be a property search engine driven by Google maps.

This morning, Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “I am aware of what Google has been doing in Australia and the US. I have talked to estate agents there and been keeping an eye on the situation.

“There had been fears that there would be an effect on the market in terms of private sellers, but I am told this has not happened.

“It is an interesting model, and of course it is free. For agents, there are potentially some very interesting opportunities.

“As far as our own site PropertyLive is concerned, we are looking at all the options open to us.”

A Google UK property site would almost certainly attract huge advertising revenue, meaning that the service could remain free to agents.

This afternoon, Rightmove said it wanted to reaffirm its service offering to customers.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said: “As a pure search engine, Google’s offering would appear to differ to the full service we have established for home-hunters, potential vendors and agents in the UK market. This can be seen in the property site that Google have already launched in Australia.

“Google is pre-eminent as a way of searching for information. But when people know what they want, and want to source quality information that is clearly presented, they turn to websites such as Amazon for books and CD’s, Ebay for auctioned collectibles, Autotrader for cars and Rightmove for property. There is no conflict between what these sites do and what Google does."

The Rightmove statement added that several organisations have attempted to enter the online property market in the past but that earlier this week News International sold up their shares in a property website they bought into in 2004.

Shipside added: “Should any announcement be made by Google, we are confident that home-hunters and agents alike will continue to see the value in Rightmove’s usability and quality services.”



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Added by Wooden Top on 2009-12-08 10:27:59

RM is not the guru of property, ha ha I haven't laghed so much, thanks for making the end of the year so jovial. We left years ago and not looked back and now sell more property and hasn't maed the slightest differance to our listings. We just throw it back, if RM is so good, how come it's got so many unsold properties!!!! Wake up, estate agency is a people business, not a dotcom business.
Added by Tim Mather on 2009-12-05 21:55:53

Sorry to pick on you again fluter BUT..."At the end of the day any portal or advertising is there to compliment your knowledge, integrity and above all service."
Do what?????
In your case would give you more credibility than you obviously deserve and exposure to a far larger market than you could point your white stick at.
Added by Tim Mather on 2009-12-05 21:34:31

fluter...Benson is right, if you are so good and BE so average, how come twice as many of what could have been your customers rejected you in favour of BE.
The punters had a choice, you or BE. More than twice as many chose BE. That tells me something.
Wake up and smell the coffee.
You may not like RM on the grounds that it costs. But vendors like it and vote with their feet.
Try Googling "return on investment"
Added by Benson on 2009-12-04 20:43:01

@fluter -

Some friendly advice for you - your story tells me two things:

1. Either Bairstowe Eve's in your area either can't sell for toffee or your agency is just

better at selling than them.
2. Either Bairstowe Eve's are really good at winning instructions or you're really bad at it.

If you had been on Rightmove (which is a big instruction winner, the membership isnt all about the leads they provide after all the public want their home on there) then you might have sold an extra 15 properties this year (which I'm pretty sure covers your membership and then some).

Have a think about why they have twice the stock that you have and whats different. Or ignore this and continue to bash Rightmove and don't make any money.
Added by Lance on 2009-12-04 16:38:35

This is great! I reckon this increases the chances of us pulling out of the newspaper to cut our abortive costs per property that doesn't sell. This means we can charge less. I'm offering a deal at 0.5% that excludes newspaper adverts! We're such good value why would anyone sell privately. They will sell privately instead of using agents that overcharge and offer a poor service - if that's you, be scared, be VERY scared!
Added by fluter on 2009-12-04 13:48:32

I can't beleive there are agents out there who still beleive their world will end if they are not on Rightmove. This is just herd mentality. The reality is that if you are very good at what you do, your customers will stick with you, just as they have done with us when we came off Rightmove around 2 years ago. Our local Bairstow Eves office, who only advertise on Rightmove, currently have 195 odd properties and Rightmove is showing they have 15 under offer. We currently have around 90 properties for sale, of which 15 are under offer. This is the proof, if youv'e got the balls! At the end of the day any portal or advertising is there to compliment your knowledge, integrity and above all service. If you think it can rectify any deficiency in these traits then you are a misguided fool.
Added by Elgar on 2009-12-04 11:56:44

I believe that Google is the way forward & that it will probably wipe out most of the traditional property portals, in time. Let’s not forget the power of Google….. it’s there in peoples minds…. They have done their job, whether we like it or not. Today, it’s a case of “Want to know something - want to find something?…. We Google it. It works.
Let’s face it, the name Google is much more memorable that Findaproperty, Rightmove, Globrix etc etc etc , so let’s encourage the mighty G.
Sure, what’s free today might cost tomorrow, but until that day…. Take advantage & if & when the cost becomes too much…. We think again. Life & property is an ever changing force……. Here’s to change, I say.
Added by D on 2009-12-04 10:01:50

I think firstly everyone has really not got a clear picture here - this is about google making money!!! As Chris rightly said this is not a property portal - I was at the same meeting and this is a way for google to try and get more money for PPC. Are google really going to promote this as a portal to the public?? - they have bigger things than this to work on I am sure.Has any one gone on any other sites (non industry related) and read the comments from the public this is full of people slagging done Estate Agents and seeing this as a way to sell privately (not good). In fact there is possible evidence I think that is could make the internet along with it Rightmove stronger in the property market. Just my thoughts on a couple of points - surely if google was to look to tie up with anyone they would look to rightmove or maybe tecso's (remember rightmove blocked there route to market cant see Google being so concerned about agents) not any of the smaller portals, in fact google could easily purchase rightmove how much power would they have then. As for the comment about the shares if you read the details in full it states that the option mutured that day I believe - so I would stay rather unrelated. I I think the autotrader comment is the most interesting - does anyone remember a few years back when google tried to compete in this market place? IT DID NOT WORK and autotrader are still going strong.
Added by Chris_Sparrow on 2009-12-03 23:21:16

Take note people...

1. Rightmove did not see this coming!
2. LOL, neither did Google!

Come on guys, since when do Google "not comment". Everyones known Google are going to do something with property on maps,

they've done it in the US and Australia and the portals weren't effected.

Google gave a speech at the Agency of the year awards a week ago, did they mention their master plan to topple Rightmove? No,

they were pushing PPC! which is all their property on maps have done in the US and in Australia!

Yes they are going to do property on maps (they said so at the Awards!), and they're going to make money from doing it with

PPC - no more, no less.

3. Some Agents are bad/naughty/sneaky agents (everyone here will know of at least one) - are Google going to police their

listings? customer support? Ban bad agents listing false properties to attract more leads? LOL, of course their not!

Are buyers going to get fed up looking at made up/false listings and look on a proper portal like Rightmove? Yes.

At least Rightmove keep the playing field level, and exclude the bad agents in my area and allow me to compete fairly.

Yes they cost alot, maybe too much - but I know what I'm getting, and I know I'll make a profit from them.
Added by corpy agent on 2009-12-03 19:56:47

So long fare well, Rightmove!You need to cut your costs and your loyal customers may stay!in otherwords to coin a corporate phrase Raise the game, Demonstrate, and roll out your plan!!!
Added by corpy agent on 2009-12-03 19:56:00

So long fare well, Rightmove!You need to cut your costs and your loyal customers may stay!in otherwords to coin a corporate phrase Raise the game, Demonstrate, and roll out your plan!!!
Added by Dukes of St James's on 2009-12-03 19:06:28

Just a thought but would it make sense for PropertyLive to tie up with this new Google service and deliver traffic (and value) to NAEA agents...?
Added by renthusiast on 2009-12-03 16:22:03

go to here for rightmove comments on google
Added by KF on 2009-12-03 15:54:44

No wonder Rightmove have been desperate to sell the new products such as Featured Agent etc in a bid to tie us in. Rightmove appear disorganised and implementing knee-jerk programmes. The service and reliability is fairly lousy too. They need competition to sharpen up their act.
Added by Ray Evans of Sheringham on 2009-12-03 15:23:42

The only reason that 'Rightmove' is top of the tree is because we all advertise their name on everything (press, details, letterheads etc) - for free!
If all NFOPP agents did the subscribed to and advetised 'Propertylive', within a few months it would do much the same. the added advantage is that private sales or lettings would never appear on the site.
Added by FSA Watchdog on 2009-12-03 14:21:56

Is that legal? Upon what
inside information did he make the decision to buy and sell two days before Google's public announcement? Tough for other sharholders without
this knowledge 'till this morning, look at the price now.
Added by Richard Jeffrey on 2009-12-03 13:56:04

On 17:08 GMT, Tuesday 1 December 2009
LONDON (ShareCast) - Scott Forbes, chairman of residential property website operator Rightmove (LSE: GB00B0MFTM73.L - news) , has exercised options over 600,000 shares and immediately sold them all.

The exercise price was 335p a share so there was a gain of 206.32p a share. That is an overall profit of £1.24m

Have some facts not hot air guys- even he thinks its bad news!!
Added by keith on 2009-12-03 13:44:19

Why are we so frightened of private ads? clients can do this anyway and the majority don't want to get involved in dealing with purchasers direct nor do they have a clue how to vet purchasers. The availability of Auto Trder to private sellers doesn't seem to upset the motor trade too much! Give value for money and you'll survive.
Added by Jules on 2009-12-03 13:20:32

Feels like I'm watching a 595 pound gorilla fall out of a tree.
Added by Brian on 2009-12-03 13:06:43

I have a plan!! Lets all upload to google, promote it in our offices, in adverts, in newspapers for free, make them the consumers number one choice, then bleat like stuck pigs when they are the biggest and charge us a commercial rate. Original, I should say so!?
Added by martin on 2009-12-03 12:53:26

Hoorah! Being part of rightmove has been like dealing with the mafia. Pay up or shut up. Many properties never appear on a postcode search (agents test this!) we had almost a third not showing which resulted in a refund. The sooner we don't have to pay protection money the better. By the way, most of the leads were useless, the only reason we are there is because other agents are. We tried to get the agents near hear to leave, but they were too spineless. Go google, go google, go google!!!
Added by Private Sellers Allowed? on 2009-12-03 12:52:34

"The bigger threat to our income" You are absolutely right. I have read through the whole thread and no one seems to recognise that as a threat!! I would be happy to pay double on Rightmove if Google are going to allow private sellers...If private sellers were to list on google, their property would get found, they would then sell it and they would then tell all their mates, which would lead to more and more people going private. I can't believe agents on this thread are so dumb not to ask that question first, before saying they can't wait for the demise of Rightmove...morons!
Added by The bigger threat to our income on 2009-12-03 12:46:37

You may be for Rightmove or against but the one thing they do not allow are private sellers.Before we all jump ship to Google and build up their web site, are they going to allow private sellers!! Is this not a bigger threat to our income than the monthly outlay to Rightmove. I would hate to see sellers try their luck on google first BEFORE instructing an agent!!
Added by Michael English on 2009-12-03 12:42:13

You get what you pay for ... ever said that when quoting your fee? Rightmove are excellent and they charge like wounded bulls. The two are painful but not incompatible. I use the professional reports that I can get out of Rightmove. Some I rely on for my market appraisals. Will no-cost Google offer us these reports at no charge ?
Added by Real on 2009-12-03 12:27:05

Rightmove are at last in serious trouble!

The fact is that the portals competing with them didn't have a name or an image that impacted with the public - Google has!

I, for one, will not be sorry to see Rightmove get it up them - they're parasites who have fed off of agents fear and unwillingness to act in unison - hope it's a painful death!

Here's to saving our hard earned money.
Added by Andy Stevenson on 2009-12-03 12:09:15

We have been following this in Beta testing in Australia. We have a plugin for Wordpress almost ready to launch and we have incorporated a feed to Google Base which is what updates the maps. In layman's terms that means agents will updates their Wordpress property site, and automatically update their Google listings.
Added by Richard Garland on 2009-12-03 12:09:11

This is a serious threat to rightmove - hence the fall in share value if it is true.

Whilst Globrix was a welcome addition to the market, clients still have no idea who they are. However if you tell them you are advertising their property for sale on Google, that will be a different picture.

Nevertheless, it could be a case of 'out of the frying pan into the fire' if one dominant player simply replaces another.

I wonder what rightmove will do in the future? Maybe they will even become an online estate agent?

Interesting times. The property market may never be the same again!
Added by John Culbert on 2009-12-03 11:53:31

Some of the comments on this story appear to miss the point. Google entering the portal market is equivalent to a fully grown grissly bear entering the room. If it happens it will be the singular most important event since the adoption of the Internet. It will decimate the portal market and negate any move by Tesco and others to enter the market. It will also tighten the screw on the property newspapers and overall reduce the marketing costs to estate agents.
Added by db on 2009-12-03 11:42:55

anybody who thinks this won't change the property market is a fool. It's rightmove's presence on google that makes it what it is, try asking your clients wether they would rather find their properties on google or rightmove and see what the response is.
Added by Sam on 2009-12-03 11:35:28

So now when you search for property via Google, will Rightmove still rank no.1? Or will Google Property? Interesting times.

Users do start their search first online and most start at Google. So hands down Google already have an audience - their brand already means abundance. The portals that will survive are the ones that offer the user other valuable resources such as home values, sold prices - so Zoopla and Rightmove have a good chance of sticking around.

And by the way Julian, users are agents customers?!? So wouldn't it make sense for portals to focus on their needs first? After all, agents only choose the portals that can deliver the best and most users and leads? Do you pick a portal because it calls you everyday to see how your mum is?
Added by Richard Cooper on 2009-12-03 11:34:15

This won't affect Rightmove, but will affect property search engines, Zoomf, Nestoria, Globrix etc.

My thoughts are quite in depth and too long for a commment.

Here's my reasoning:

juicyredapple.org/profiles/blogs/eat-news-flash-on-google
Added by TREVOR KENT PPNAEA on 2009-12-03 11:28:38

I wondered why Rightmove came round recently to INVITE me to re-join and at only 595 per month until their NEXT rise, oh bless!

Perhaps Mr Google would like me to front their launch advertising
with a Michael Winner style "Don't worry Mr Shipside - it's only a commercial!". Big T
Added by Makes sense on 2009-12-03 11:28:29

This makes sense now then. The previous story 'News International sells its stake in Globrix'
Added by ST on 2009-12-03 11:17:29

It's a shame that these new free sites are constantly being brought in, much heralded and then they don't give us what Rightmove gives us.

They'll come in as a 'free' service and then plaster their site with adverts and try to sell our ancilliary services that make Estate Agents good money in this market to our customers.

There is no other portal in the UK - tell clients you advertise on Globrix, Zoopla, etc and they stare blankly. Everyone wants their property advertised on Rightmove. It will take a lot of exposure and a long time to change this.
Added by Gary on 2009-12-03 11:16:31

The property portal industry is experiencing a fundamental business model change. The incumbent property portals (e.g. RightMove PLC) derive the vast majority of their revenue from charging real estate agents a monthly fee to list their property descriptions. Over the last twelve months a new set of property portals have entered the market. Their business models do not require an agency to pay to list their properties, listing is free of charge. Good examples are Globrix.com, Nestoria.com and LocalPropertyIndex.com. In addition, Google has entered the market with an extension to their standard Google Maps service. This approach completely undermines the old model. As the popularity of the new portals increases the number of agents willing to pay to list will decrease. The demise of the old model is inevitable.
Added by David on 2009-12-03 11:12:48

Interesting, perhaps Local Property Index and Globrix which offer free property listings already, will be the models of the future, if Google is now going to do the same.....Interesting times for RightMove. They are expensive for agencies and the free listings model, if the companies above are on page one of Google, which I've just looked and they are, could save estage agencies a lot of money during this difficult time for anyone involved in the property market.
Added by ricky roo on 2009-12-03 11:05:42

I hope shitemove goes bust - they rip us agents off
Added by At Last! on 2009-12-03 11:05:33

So long fare well, Rightmove! Put the devil to bed!
Added by Julian on 2009-12-03 10:59:25

What a shame for Rightmove! maybe they will start to look after the agents who pay their bills for once rather than being more concerned with the users and how much market share they have...or had.
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Editorial Contact Details - Rosalind Renshaw
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