Rightmove sees strong home market after profit tops pre-pandemic levels

Feb 25 (Reuters) – Rightmove’s (RMV.L) 2021 profit surpassed pre-pandemic levels and the British real-estate portal said it expects transaction levels to stay strong, dispelling slowdown concerns driven by rising inflation and a higher cost of living.

UK homebuilders have forecast robust demand even in the face of decades-high inflation, helped by firm home prices in an undersupplied market and Britain scrapping all COVID-19 curbs in a bid to recover faster than other major economies.

“As the market normalises, we expect the number of transactions to return to pre-pandemic levels… we believe the UK online property advertising market will continue to grow,” Rightmove, which runs the country’s largest property website, said in a statement on Friday.

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Average revenue per advertiser (ARPA) surged about 53% year-over-year to 1,189 pounds per month and grew 9% from 2019 levels, as Rightmove scaled back the steep discounts it had offered to agency and new home customers early on during the pandemic in 2020.

The FTSE 100 firm said operating profit for the year ended Dec. 31 jumped 68% to 226.1 million pounds ($303.3 million). It had reported profit of 213.7 million pounds in the pre-pandemic 2019 fiscal.

The London-headquartered firm declared a final dividend of 4.8 pence per share, up from 4.5 pence a year ago.

($1 = 0.7456 pounds)

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Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.