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Property portal restructures to save costs

It comes at a time when many estate agents are switching to free portals and Rightmove admitted that three out of four agents who have left in recent months did so because of the credit crunch.

The changes at Rightmove include a new finance director, Nick Mckittrick who has served on the company's board since 2004. He will also be the chief operating officer and replaces Graham Zacharias who will stand down from the business in the spring.

The company is also merging its head office functions with its property advertising business to save costs.

'The costs, as well as potential decision-making delays that go with a group management structure have been eliminated,' the firm's managing director said in a statement. It did not say whether any jobs would be cut.

The fortunes of Rightmove have served as a barometer for estate agents' woes. Last month, it reported that membership fell to 10,700 by the end of October, a decline of 15% from the 12,600 on its books a year earlier.

It said that three out of four agents who had left the site had done so because they had closed down, or were in danger of doing so

Recently an independent survey by Estate Agent Today showed that that three-quarters of agents were considering leaving the portal in favour of free sites. They claim that Rightmove's fees of between £400 and £500 per month per estate agency office are too high in the current economic downturn.

Rightmove has defended its position and revealed that earlier this month a new daily record was set with nearly 44,500 leads sent to agents on January 5 compared with 20,092 on the same day in 2008.