Profit before tax plummeted 43 percent to £61.6million in the January to June period on profit of £94.8million, which also slumped by more than a third. The gloomy results come after Rightmove came in for criticism early in the coronavirus crisis for continuing to charge estate agents their monthly fees and only offering a six-month delay on payments. This was despite firms doing virtually no business as the housing market practically shut down when the country entered a nationwide lockdown.
Hundreds of furious estate agents lashed out at the property website’s “tone-deaf” proposal, leading to Rightmove slashing invoices by three-quarters for four months from April.
Rightmove said it was this significant reduction which was the driving force in pushing its half-year profit down by around £49million.
However, the property website has been buoyed by increased demand to both rent and buy homes in June and July compared with the same period last year, as the housing market begins to recover from the depths of the coronavirus lockdown.
Through the two months, demand for property surged by 50 percent, with rental demand also up by a fifth, compared with the same period in 2019.
Rightmove has reported a huge slump in profit and revenue
The UK housing market is beginning to show signs of recovery
From May 13, then Rightmove’s estate agents began re-listing properties on its website again, the property firm as smashed its traffic record – which was achieved on February – a total of 65 times.
The company sis the drive is most likely to have been driven by the stamp duty holiday announced by the Government to help the housing market rebound following the coronavirus pandemic.
The firm said pent-up demand is now being released as people who were planning to move before the COVID-19 pandemic have started house-hunting again.
Several others are now looking for a new place to live after being confined to their homes for a number of weeks during lockdown – despite not previously having any plans to move.
More people are looking for somewhere else to live following lockdown
But bosses warned it is “too early to assess whether the strength of this positive momentum in the housing market will be maintained against the threat of further lockdowns and wider economic slowdown”.
Rightmove executive Peter Brooks-Johnson still struck a positive tone, praising the efforts of customers through this “exceptional period”.
He said: “In recent months COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of everyone across the UK.
“Our customers have shown incredible resilience and ingenuity to continue to trade through this exceptional period.
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UK house prices surged at their fastest pace in 11 years last month
UK house prices increased by 1.7 percent in July
“I am grateful for both their continued support and also their proactive engagement to ensure that home-hunters have been well-informed and protected.
“I’m also immensely proud of the Rightmove team for the unerring dedication which has seen Rightmove operate seamlessly throughout this challenging period and offer unprecedented support to the industry through discounts and accelerated innovation.”
UK house prices surged at their fastest pace in 11 years last month as the lifting of lockdown measures saw property buyers pile into the market, but experts have warned the sudden increase could actually be a “false dawn”.
The latest survey by the Nationwide building society showed house prices increased by 1.7 percent last month – the biggest increase the firm has recorded since August 2009.
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The average price of a home has also risen 1.5 percent from a year ago to now stand at £220,936.
July’s house price rise is a major boost for the struggling market, after values fell 1.6 percent in June and 0.1 percent year-on-year.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, said pent-up demand was likely coming through in July as coronavirus lockdown measures eased throughout the country.
But he also warned the coronavirus pandemic itself might also be affecting people’s behaviour.
In May, a survey from Nationwide revealed 15 percent of people were considering moving house because of their new locked down lives.
However, the chief economist warned homeowners not to assume the market has recovered just because of one good set of results.
He said: “There is a risk this proves to be something of a false dawn.
“Most forecasters expect labour market conditions to weaken significantly in the quarters ahead as a result of the after-effects of the pandemic and as Government support schemes wind down.”
“If this comes to pass, it would likely dampen housing activity once again in the quarters ahead.”