A key to FTB success is finding all the properties for sale that meet your criteria. Rightmove is a good place to start, but what about properties not on Rightmove?
Rightmove is by far the biggest property website in the UK, and every First Time Buyer should use that to discover properties for sale. However, it is not the only property website in the UK, and in addition, many agents do not use Rightmove at all or only use them partially.
While you should absolutely bookmark Rightmove, sign up for an account, and set up property alerts… you also need to explore alternatives to Rightmove, to find properties that are not on Rightmove. Here are the three alternatives available to you:
- Property portal alternatives to Rightmove
- Properties not listed online on any property website
- Find properties for sale on specific streets
Property portal alternatives to Rightmove
Both of these property websites will have properties not listed on Rightmove. This is because some estate agents exclusively use Zoopla or On The Market instead of Rightmove. Even estate agents that use Rightmove, might decide to only list part of their properties on the other two websites. This is because Rightmove sometimes charges higher listing fees, so it makes economical sense for estate agents to list on Zoopla or On The Market if they have cheaper listing fees. Especially for properties that are well-priced and popular that will go under offer easily, regardless of where they are listed. And these are the types of desirable properties that you want to know about ASAP.
I don’t recommend checking the Zoopla or On The Market websites as often as Rightmove. But I would recommend checking them periodically, maybe once a week or once every two weeks for new listings. Alternatively, sign up to instant email alerts for new listings.
Properties not listed online on any property website
There are some properties that will not be on any property search website. So how do you find these properties that are not on Rightmove, Zoopla, or On The Market?
They will be on the estate agent’s website. If you have time, it is worth putting a recurring task in your schedule to browse the websites of the local estate agents in the area you are interested in. Some of them will also have email alerts you can sign up to.
Even if the property for sale gets listed on Rightmove, it often appears on the estate agent’s website 24-48 hours before it gets listed on Rightmove, Zoopla, or On The Market.
The other way is to register your interest with local estate agents early on, telling them your search criteria. They will then email or call you when they have a new property for sale matching your criteria – and sometimes even before it goes publicly live on their website or on Rightmove. This is a great way to be one of the first buyers to view the property ahead of the competition!
Find properties for sale on specific streets
If you have narrowed down your property search to only a few streets, you can use this method to find properties that fly under the radar. Some homeowners worry about their home details and photos being plastered all over the internet, for everyone to see. It can be a burglary risk – especially if they have expensive belongings that are exposed for all to see in the listing pictures. Therefore, they might instruct the estate agent to not advertise the property online. However, they will often still have a For Sale sign outside their property.
I recommend walking or driving down your shortlisted streets, every few weeks, just to see if there are any For Sale signs. You might even find home-made ones, where the seller is looking to market the property privately to avoid estate agent fees. These are the hidden gems – 90% of buyers will never come across these locally marketed as they are so focused on using property websites like Rightmove.
The other benefit of checking out the streets you are looking to buy in, is being able to spot bad neighbours before you buy, and avoiding having your dream home turn into the home from hell.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can print out copies of a short letter and post them through all the mailboxes on the street. The contents of the letter would be to let homeowners know that you are in the market for a property on that street, and your contact details. This is a great way to find property even before it hits the market. An added bonus is that a private transaction without an estate agent will mean both you and the seller could split the savings from the estate agent fee.
In addition, here are the top FAQs that we often get asked at First Time Buyer Help, related to alternatives to Rightmove for finding properties to buy.
Does Rightmove show all properties?
The short answer is no – some estate agents have decided to stop using Rightmove altogether, as they were faced with huge increases in the monthly subscription charge, often amounting to thousands of pounds a year.
These estate agents have gone to Zoopla or On The Market instead – both of which have been offering substantially cheaper subscriptions to estate agents.
What percentage of UK properties are on Rightmove? It is hard to say as an analysis would have to look at all the properties on the three websites (Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market) and compare how many are duplicates and how many are unique.
Anecdotal evidence, from First Time Buyers we have known, are that usually one or two out of ten properties are on Zoopla or On The Market, but not on Rightmove. But it varies from area to area, estate agent to estate agent.
Which property website is the best?
Therefore, I recommend using all three property websites in your search for your first home.