Property portal Rightmove gave further evidence of a slowdown in the UK housing market, saying fewer people were searching for properties on its platforms as it posted an annual profit in line with expectations.
Rightmove runs the UK’s largest property website.
Activity in the UK housing sector has eased in recent months, hurt by a dent in demand for new homes as higher home-loan rates and broader recession fears drive away prospective buyers.
The London-headquartered firm said there were more than 2.3 billion visits to its platforms in 2022 but that was down 8% from a year earlier, with an 11% fall in time spent searching for properties.
“While a cooling market does not affect Rightmove directly, it does impact the estate agents it relies on for fees,” Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a note.
She added that the firm might need to generate income in more creative ways in the future if agent numbers continued to fall.
“The softening from the Covid-induced frenetic market towards a more normal market earlier in the year was disrupted in the final few months by the unexpected rapid mortgage rate increases,” chief executive Peter Brooks-Johnson said in a statement.
Still, the company’s Average Revenue Per Advertiser (ARPA) rose 11% to £1,314 a month from £1,189 a year earlier.
The company posted an operating profit for the year ended December 31 of £241.3m, compared with company-compiled average analysts’ estimates of £242.2m.