Rightmove, the online property website, has been forced to cut a fifth of its staff as part of a reorganisation of its business model to help cope with the downturn in the UK housing market.

The job cuts will save about £5m annually, according to the company, part of which it will divert towards greater marketing spending to encourage new business. In total, the company will increase its annual consumer marketing spending by about £1m.

The company said the reduction in overheads was a result of the tough trading conditions being experienced by the property industry as a whole. Rightmove has seen the number of estate agent members leaving the website rise sharply as more property services companies go out of business.

Sales among estate agents have fallen to an average of just one property a week, according to the RICS, as new buyers have been deterred by the lack of mortgages and the expectation of further price falls.

In the first six months of the year, Rightmove’s retention rate among estate agents fell to 84%, from 93% last year, suggesting that as many as 1,300 offices went out of business.

Financial Times, The Times