Rightmove predicts real estate transactions will return to ‘pre-pandemic levels’ this year

Rightmove said 2021 was the busiest year in its 21-year history, with the tight UK property market pushing pre-tax profit up by two-thirds.

The operator of the UK’s biggest property website said on Friday it expected UK property transactions to decline and return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels this year, but was still confident of robust growth.

The FTSE 100 group said a record number of people spent more than “18 billion minutes on our platforms” last year as potential buyers shrugged off soaring inflation and the rising cost of life in the search for a property.

“As the market normalizes, we expect transaction counts to return to pre-pandemic levels,” the group said in a statement. “We remain alert to the macro environment, but Rightmove is not significantly impacted by the real estate market cycle except in the most extreme circumstances.

Rightmove reported that annual pre-tax profit rose 67% year-on-year to £226m, on revenue that rose nearly 50% to £305m.

Most of Rightmove’s revenue comes from agents who pay a fee to list properties on the site. The company, which has drawn criticism from a group of independent estate agents who have complained about its fee model, reported an operating margin of 74%.

Average revenue per advertiser – a crucial industry metric – rose 53% year-on-year to £1,189 per month. A final dividend of 4.8p per share, up from 4.5p in 2020, brought the total payout for 2021 to 7.8p.

The positive outlook follows recent data showing the price of homes coming on the market in the UK hit a record close to £350,000, up £7,800 between January and February, according to Rightmove data. . The 2.3% rise was the largest monthly increase since the company began tracking national prices in 2001.

Rightmove shares rose 3.5% in early trading to 636.2p.

Penny D. Jackson