Here’s Who’s Nicking Papers’ Property Listings: Rightmove Bullish For 2010

Property listings sites’ efficient digital ads may be helping pull our housing economy out of the doldrums – but even the sector’s leading destination saw revenue dip in last year’s recession…

Rightmove’s operating profit may have risen two percent (to £41.9 million) through the year – but that’s mainly due to shaving off 17 percent of its costs in staff cutbacks early on in the downturn, in 2008 – actual income fell six percent over the year (to £69.4 million) because it welcomed fewer estate agents and fewer new-build homes. Average revenue per property advertiser was largely static at £308.

These supply sides may be challenged, but that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t turning to the internet to find a better deal – sites like Rightmove are well placed. Email inquiries doubled to 10.6 million and the searchability offered by a website clearly has several advantages over leafing through inky pages, as most buyers did in days of yore.

Some newspaper publihshers have lost as much as half of their homes classifieds in the last year. Coincidentally, things started to pick up online around the same time – Rightmove, with inquiries at record levels, clocked its best-ever revenue month this January. The site’s advertiser count grew six percent, even though the number of homes it listed shrank by 7.6 percent.

MD Ed Williams, in the release, observes a “structural shift from traditional media to online property advertising“: “As early as April 2009, our revenues started to rise in contrast to traditional property advertising media which continues to decline.