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Housing Report, May 2020

Housing market picking up following lockdown (reported by propertymark)

Key Findings

  • As the housing market reopened; estate agents recorded an average of five sales per branch
  • Demand for housing was seven percent higher than recorded in February

This data was collected after the English housing market reopened on 13th May for the period covering 13th to 31st May following the lockdown. 

Sales agreed

  • The average number of sales agreed per estate agent branch stood at five in May, a decrease of almost half (44 percent) compared to February when there were nine sales recorded per branch.

Demand for housing

  • In May, the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch rose by seven percent, increasing from 322 in February to 344 in May.
  • Year-on-year, housing demand is up by 12 percent, rising from 307 in May 2019 as prospective buyers resumed their home-buying plans.

Supply of available properties

  • The number of properties available per member branch stood at 35 in May.
  • Year-on-year, the supply of housing fell by 15 percent from 41 per branch in May 2019.

Sales to FTBs


  • The number of sales made to FTBs stood at 32 percent in May, a rise from 22 percent recorded in February.

What properties sold for

  • In May, more than two in three (70 percent) properties sold for less than the original asking price.
  • 61 percent of estate agents have seen an increase in the number of sales falling through since the Government imposed a lockdown.



Brutal battle of the ‘challenger portals’ hots up as Rightmove weakens

The five portals all claiming to offer estate agents an alternative to the Big Three are jostling for position as they sense Rightmove's weakness following the Coronavirus pandemic.

By Nigel Lewis the Negotiator

Self-described ‘50% socialist, 50% capitalist’ portal ResidentialPeople has predicted that only two of the so-called challenger portals will make it through to join Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket and that he will be one of them.

His claim is the latest salvo in the battle among the challenger portals to win sign-ups among agents and offers an alternative to the main portals.

The other players in this apparently well-funded growing tech-based sector include Homesearch, OpenBrix, PropertyHeads, and OneDome.

All know there is an opportunity as estate agent displeasure with Rightmove grows following its Covid listings fees gaffe, years of aggressive cost increases, and rise of groups such as Say No To Rightmove.

Set up 18 months ago as a global portal with a UK arm, its boss Chris May says he is working to a three to five-year game plan.


“Even if we were the fifth biggest portal we’re still going to deliver good value to agents,” he says.

“I remain confident that, if we can get the agents on board so that our subsequent inventory can compete with Rightmove and OTM, our ownership model USPs, and our SEO strategy will help us get where we need to go.

“It allows us to run a very slick operation while always guarding our agent’s interests.

“But look, I’m also not pretending to be a good Samaritan. If we can grow to the point where someone buys the portal for $1 billion, if the agents approve the sale, that’s £500 million for us and another £500 million split between 7,000 agents.”

The portal's 75% fees cut for agents ends in just over two months' time but agents have only a small window in which to give the portal notice.

Many agents wondering whether to unplug from the Rightmove listing service after the Coronavirus crisis are now facing decision time as the window for leaving the portal begins to close in a few weeks’ time.

In April the portal gave all its agents an automatic 75% discount on their subscription fees for four months after initially offering only a deferred fee scheme.

But many agents do not know when to give the notice to leave before the full subscription is reinstated. The Negotiator spoke to half a dozen agents none of whom knew how their notice period with Rightmove works.

One agent on the Boycott Rightmove Facebook page yesterday suggested that agents had a ‘last chance’ to give notice before 31st May in order to come off before the 75% deal ends. This, Rightmove says, is incorrect.

The portal’s T&Cs are confusing though and we asked the portal for comment on when, in practice, an agent would have to give the notice to leave before the discount period ends. A spokesperson said agents should wait until the end of June to give notice, should they wish to do so.

But although Rightmove’s publicly-available T&Cs say agents need only give 30 days’ prior written notice to quit the portal, its rules elongate this; the 30-day notice period starts only when the portal replies to an agent, not when it receives the request, and if notice is given part way through one month, the agent cannot leave until the end of the next month.

Because of this, agents wishing to exit Rightmove will need to give notice by 15th June at the earliest and the 30th June at the latest to able to leave by the end of July.

One of the four agents spearheading estate agent groups Murray Lee is seeking to leave the portal or force it to reduce its fees says he concurs with our interpretation of its T&Cs after looking at his contract, saying that he believes agents must give notice of ‘at least a month and no less than one calendar month’. Murray says his campaign is going to wait until early June how to proceed.


By Nigel Lewis

The Negotiator.

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