Rightmove sees revenue hit, but signals housing market recovery

(Reuters) - Britain's biggest property website Rightmove RMV.L said on Tuesday it will take another revenue hit of 17 million to 20 million pounds as it extended discounts to help agents ride out the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

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The company, which pointed to more signs of a recovery in the housing market, said sales agreed are currently over 10% higher in England than last year, helped by new property listings returning to the market.

Shares in the company were down 2.2% at 576 pence by 0737 GMT.

The London-based company plans to bring all employees back from furlough by July 31, and added that it does not expect to issue commercial paper under the government’s coronavirus aid scheme.

Rightmove, however, said it was unable to provide any forecast on future profitability.

The property market in England re-emerged from the lockdown on May 13 and Wales reopened on June 22, while Scotland is set to reopen next Monday.

Rightmove said it will offer a 60% discount for August and 40% for September to its agency customers in England. In Wales and Scotland, it will offer a 75% discount for August and 60% for September.

In March, the company said it was discounting customers’ invoices by 75% between April and July, leading to a hit of up to 75 million pounds to its revenue this year.

Rival OnTheMarket OTMPO.L also said it will extend its listing-fee discounts until September that could hit revenue in the short-term.

Rightmove said its membership base has declined since the start of the year, primarily from lower stock agency customers experiencing cash flow issues, which have worsened due to the pandemic, with traditional agents proving to be resilient.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sherry Jacob-Phillips