Posted by: housingdabble | June 23, 2010

Dedicated Lettings Portals Emerging

During the past few weeks there seem to be an emerging group of property portals dedicated to the Lettings market.

The ones I am going to highlight (because they don’t allow FSBO) listings are:-

  • Rentright.co.uk
  • Livelets.com (From CFP software)
  • Lettingsearch.co.uk

Livelets.com (From CFP software)

A new launch from CFP which I assume is in part a vehicle for enabling their software users to upload to Google Property Search for lettings. They don’t seem to have any USP’s other than their software and it’s a largely functional site.

Rentright.co.uk

Rentright was created in 2004 and then taken over last year by a relocation company who felt they could help maximise it’s potential. Their USP is probably their Residential Rental Price Index (RRPI) which provides average rents for property type by town, county and nationally.The index is pretty basic at the moment but I can see it becoming more intelligent over time.

Lettingsearch.co.uk

Letting search was created way back in 2002 and then re-launched last year by new management (can you see a theme here?). They claim to be the largest and also have a partnership with easyroommate.com which I think is a clever add on. With an impressive list of clients they claim to have a number of USP’s such as Landlord leads to agents, tenant matching and a unique web site structure.

Can these Lettings portals be successful?

Concentrating on Rentright and Lettingsearch, I do think there are advantages to having dedicated sites and clearly for both of these companies to have been re-launched in 2009 their new owners are optimistic about the future.

The challenge they will have is the mainstream portals are already way ahead of them in terms of public awareness. This could be overcome by working on search terms etc, but a Google search by me this morning showed that what I consider to be the most likely term “property to rent in” is still dominated by Rightmove, primelocation, Zoopla, Findaproperty, gumtree etc. In fact none of these sites were on page one for sponsored or natural searches…

I predict a tough road ahead for both, but also remind myself that they don’t have to be ‘number one’ in order to be profitable.

If you’re a letting agent I’d be interested to hear your views on these portals?


Responses

  1. Citylets.co.uk is the highest ranking dedicated lettings portal in the property sector in the UK according to Hitwise (currently 74 May2010). none of the sites in this article above rank in the top 100 though perhaps with investment they will get there. With the digital property group and rightmove flying in England for lettings, these new sites have a long way to travel. we have an established brand in our geographies of Scotland and NI and an experienced team but took the view the current brands in rest of UK are too strong…time will tell i guess. I wish any new entrant well- it won’t be easy coming into a mature marketplace which now increasingly also has Gumtree to contend with.

  2. I think your article outlines some important factors and the search engines are just one of the key traffic drivers for any online business. The modern online business has many other approaches for brand exposure and building, and in traffic generation, plus in partnership with letting agents it is possible to start providing a base to penetrate the online property portal market place. The emphasis on many of the large established portals is with sales and often lettings can be an after thought and with increasing advertising prices to use the more established portal brands they are pricing themselves out the market for lettings agents. It is important to remember nothing stands still, the internet is always evolving and there is always opportunity in any market place, it just depends on how you go about getting there.

    • Chris,

      You make some good points and the pricing aspect of the established portals is something I hadn’t considered. As things continue to change you will no doubt add other benefits from having a focused approach to the letting market.

  3. Hi, yes indeed we have plenty of additional benefits for the letting agents and the tenants searching for a rental property coming up in the pipeline, and with the CDP (continual development program) the rentright website will continue to add features and evolve to enhance the services even further, so it really is a case of watch this space.

  4. I am not sure about this approach if I am honest.

    Not that I shouldn’t think it is the way forward for the lettings industry because, as Chris suggested, Lettings is often a second thought. In my opinion it should be almost more important as sales, as we have seen in recent years because it provides a useful cash flow as sales dry up. Most agencies missed this point in my opinion.

    Anyway, SEO and the like, can a “newish” site with not as much content as the larger players really compete.

    I have to say an interesting perspective for me, in light of the collaborative and Social Media world we live in, not to mention the high turn over of the tenancies, is this area of the sites.

    Imagine old tenants reviewing the properties once they leave? Reviewing the landlords. This could be really interesting and could really revolutionalise the industry.

    Any thoughts?

    James

  5. The idea of tenants reviewing previous properties is an interesting one.

    The government have dropped their landlord review site idea and I think that;s a good move – not a good thing for them to get involved in.

    But could a portal open themselves up to it?

    I think with most review sites there are multiple reviews for each product/service which enables the user to see a broad selection of comments and it levels out the situation where one person complains but is maybe unreasonable, whereas many others give a positive review. You almost expect a product or service to have 1/2 bad comments. I think this is what we trust, a range of opinions rather than one persons (unless we know them).

    With rental property, there is only likely to be one review done every 1/2 yrs on average, meaning there would be little balance and also things may have changed dramatically during this period – i.e refurbishment.

    Anyone doing this would need to have some way of balancing or managing this situation. Maybe Facebook connect would enable this to work better in the longer term.

  6. Yep, fair point. Would be interesting to see it implemented though.

    It would work well in the holiday lettings business though and something I will be implementing across our overseas property network. With one or two week lets the norm it works a lot better (and great for the SEO side as well)

    I also believe people should be able to leave comments as they browse through properties on Rightmove or Primelocation. Again it takes the collaborative nature of the website to the next level but also could provide valuable feedback or interest to vendors/agents.

    James

  7. Hi Ben, loved your blog thought you raised some interesting points. You referred to Lettingsearch having a number of USP’s one of which being a unique website structure, and one of your followers correctly pointed out that lettingsearch do not appear in the top 100 web sites listed on Hitwise. These two points are linked, in total the lettingsearch group has over 410 local lettings-only portals e.g http://www.leicesterlettings.co.uk, as each of the sites are stand alone portals Hitwise counts them all individually not as a group. With over 300,000 unique visitors a month across all our sites we would definitely rank within the top 100.

    On the subject of search terms, lettingsearch usually appears page 1 or 2 when the term “rent” is used however for searches containing a location followed by “letting” or “lettings” we are usually in the few listings on page one for each of our 410+ domain locations. This is very much work in progress for us and our results are improving rapidly.

    With regards to your question “Can these Lettings portals be successful?” Lettingsearch currently has over 850 letting agents listing with us, surely they can’t all be wrong?

  8. Hi Andy,

    It’s nice to have you post on here and explain your web site structure in more detail.

    Thank you

    Ben


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