Chaps, ladies, children… I think I finally know what it feels like to be happily married for several years, only for the marriage to result in an unexpected divorce because it became apparent my bitch of a partner only wanted me for my money. The experience is every bit painful as they say it is. Every last inch (2 inches on a superb day) of my penis is telling me to go out and get a hooker right now; they say it’s a natural step in the healing process.
Either way, I’m wounded. Truly wounded.
On the 8th of Feburary 2011, it was a sad, sad day for all landlords, but especially me (I’ll shortly explain why i’m the biggest victim of all).
Gumtree, the classified website owned by Ebay, decided to stick a rusty blade in the backs of all landlords. I don’t know what happened, but they must have watched one too many episodes of Dragon’s Den or some shit and become inspired, because they have now put a premium price tag on their once FREE service. I think the technical expression is, “squeezing every penny”, but on the streets, we just call it straight up “jacking”
For those blissfully unaware, Gumtree was a place where landlords could easily create adverts for vacant rental properties for free. As a result, more often than not (from my experience), find tenants quickly and efficiently. It was awesome.
Gumtree’s OLD pricing structure
Back in the golden area, Landlords were able to post as many adverts as they wished at no cost. So if I had 10 vacant properties, I could list them without needing the last 3 digits of the security code on the back of my VISA debit.
Gumtree lists their properties in descending order based on the creation of the advert, so from newest to oldest. Landlords who want to stay visible at the top of search results need to “bump” their ads frequently to push themselves back to the top.
Before, *bumping* was a simple case of logging into the advert control panel, and then resubmitting the advert. The ad would then automatically get pushed to the top again because it gave Gumtree a clear signal from the landlord that the property was still available and alive.
The *bump* feature was imperative, especially in areas like London, where hundreds of vacant properties are added to the Gumtree system every day, consequently even adverts that were added an hour ago are probably dead and buried by now. Without the *bump* feature, an advert trying to attract tenants in an area with lot of choice becomes futile soon after it’s been approved, which makes Gumtree kinda’ pointless for a landlord.
Clearly, the old pricing structure was beautiful. It’s the very reason why the Gumtree head office received jiffy bags full of my semen and unconditional praise on several blog posts i’ve written.
Gumtree’s NEW pricing structure
This is their horrifying new pricing structure, and their justification for it:
In order to maintain the high quality responses you expect from Gumtree, we need to continue our extensive investment in marketing.
To do this we will be charging to post rental ads nationwide from February 8th. But don’t panic, each year your first two ads will be free and just £9.95 thereafter.
Plus, if you’re posting multiple ads, sign up for an account which will give you unlimited ads for as little as £49 per month.
Essentially, they’ve capped each landlord to 2 free listings per year, whereas before there was no limit! For the average Joe landlord, the 2 adverts per year is probably adequate. However, there’s also a kicker for the average Joe…
Gumtree have revoked the FREE *bump* feature. Yes, they’re going to charge us for the privilege of bumping our ads. Outside London, that will be £2 per day. In London, it’ll be £7.14 per day– that’s £49.98 a week if you want to do it every day, as you’ll probably need to…
My relationship with Gumtree, and why i’m the biggest victim
Let me give you all a brief summary of my relationship with Gumtree; it may shed some light on why I’m filled with psychotic rage and have a jiffy bag addressed to Gumtree that now contains dog shit, as opposed to my semen.
My regular readers will know i’m an avid fan of Gumtree. I’ve used Gumtree for years to find tenants for FREE, consequently I’ve dedicated several blog posts praising their service; encouraging other landlords to use their awesome FREE service. I literally must have sent them thousands of landlords over the years.
There was genuinely no other free service like Gumtree that performed so well for landlords, which is why they stood out from the rest. Now, sadly, whether they realise or not, Gumtree have thrown themselves amongst the rest of the property portals that charge a premium. Dime a dozen.
Not only have Gumtree taken away a service which I once adored, but they have now put me into a position where I have to go through every blog post I’ve published (there’s about 20 of them) regarding their FREE service and update it with their new pricing policy. Needless to say, I won’t be so enthusiastic about their service anymore.
I wonder why bad things happen to good people. I’ve been good to Gumtree, and they know I have! We had a good thing going on. I adored them, they probably adored me more. I didn’t deserve this.
Clearly I’m the real victim here. Some of you may be hurting, but not as much as I am.
How Landlords Can Avoid Gumtree’s “Bump” Fee And “2 adverts per year limit”
Somewhere in the midst of my anxiety attack (which I’m still experiencing, by the way), I asked myself, “how are Gumtree actually limiting landlords to list 2 adverts per year?”
I couldn’t think of any technical solution, especially since they don’t require landlords to register before they can list an advert. So how were they enforcing the restriction?
With the risk of losing my generous serving of 2 whole FREE annual adverts, I added dummy adverts to see how they were going to restrict the amount of properties I was going to list.
I filled out the standard form, listing all details of the vacant property and then submitted it. Just before confirming the advert, I was shown this disclaimer:
I confirmed the listing, meaning in theory, I should only be allowed to post one more advert this year. I filled out another form, listing all details of a different vacant property and providing all the same personal contact details as before. Again, before confirming, I was returned with this disclaimer:
So yes, they were limiting the adverts as my credit had reduced. However, I was still alluded to how they were monitoring the amount of adverts I was listing (remember, I didn’t have to register in order to submit an advert). I imagined they had implemented something extremely clever; a solution beyond my comprehension.
Knowing I had run out of credit, I tried adding a third advert for a vacant rental property. For the third time, I filled out the form, listing details of another dummy property. But this time, I did one thing different; I provided a different contact email address…
Low and behold, before confirming the listing, I was given this disclaimer:
My credit count had changed, and I was able to post a 3rd listing with in minutes of each other! So actually, from what it appears, Gumtree are controlling the “2 free rental ads per year” limit by email address. I was pretty surprised by the lack of complexity of their solution to policing their policy. Seems conveniently lousy, unless I’m missing something here?!?
From what I can make out, all we really need to do is provide a unique email address for each property and we can have as many listings as we wish. I’m still in disbelief because it seems so stupid, like sticking a cork up a baby’s arse to stop them from shitting themselves. Regardless, most people have multiple email accounts. If not, it’s not much hardship to create new accounts.
Moreover, instead of paying out of our noses to “bump” an advert, we could just delete a property and relist it again with in minutes, on a daily basis, which would affectively give the same result as a bump… FOR FREE.
Gumtree is NOT value for money (in my opinion)
Let’s forget we can avoid Gumtree’s fees for a moment…
Gumtree is actually not value for money when you compare them to rival marketing opportunities for vacant rentals. To “legitimately” bump an advert for a week in London (which is where you’ll most need the bump feature), it costs approximately £50. Fiddy bones per week ain’t no joke.
Your £50 would be much better spent on a service which allows you to list your vacant property on several portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. Gumtree’s pricing structure simply doesn’t make sense when you make that kind of comparison. And if it’s free you’re looking for (which most people using Gumtree are), then, in my opinion, there are better free alternatives than Gumtree.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking for tenants outside of London where constant *bumps* aren’t necessary, Gumtree will still be useful (and I’ll still continue to use their FREE service in that circumstance). However, in London and other popular areas, I’d rather invest my money on websites that allow landlords to advertise on Rightmove and the alike.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be construed as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.