This article was sponsored by our partners at Zoopla and written by Charlie Bryant, Managing Director at Zoopla.
As Brexit uncertainty continues to roll on, and house price growth moderates, many would assume that consumer confidence and property transactions are stalling. HMRC data however shows that the number of property transactions in January rose by 0.8% on December and were up 1.3% year on year.
The reality is that housing sales volumes are holding up close to the average for the last 5 years.
Whether house price inflation in a local market is hot or cold, there are always vendors looking for advice and this is a priority group for us at Zoopla where we saw vendor lead volumes increase across the UK last year.
According to our research, over a quarter of households surveyed described their current status as ‘active’, looking to either buy, rent or sell a property. More interestingly, almost half of households describe themselves as browsing, waiting for the right property to come to the market. Buyers, sellers, renters and landlords are all still wanting to transact.
In these tougher times we recognise the importance of converting these browsers into leads for our estate agency clients and are consistently delivering on this for agents across the country.
Vendor leads increase in weak and strong housing markets
House price growth has varied across the UK, from Newport where house prices are up by 11% over the last year to price falls of 3% in Aberdeen. Comparing house price growth to Zoopla’s growth in vendor leads shows that would-be sellers remain engaged in markets with varying levels of price growth.
Vendor leads from Zoopla grew by an average of 16% over 2018 in the markets with the weakest price inflation as home owners and investors consider their options and seek out advice from local agents. Vendor leads grew as fast across inner London where price falls have been concentrated, highlighting the potential to win business. The same was true in commuter areas around the capital where prices have grown significantly in recent years, including Kingston, Harrow and Watford.
Strong vendor leads growth in regional housing markets
Housing market activity is strongest outside South Eastern England, where we’ve seen above average price growth and rising housing sales. Unsurprisingly, the fastest growth in vendor leads last year was concentrated in the Midlands, South West and North of England. Markets such as Walsall, Blackburn, Chelmsford, Dudley and Taunton all registered very high levels of vendor leads in 2018.
New build is also a driver of vendor leads and towns such as Chelmsford and Telford have sizable new homes pipelines which generate demand from existing households to trade up and list their current property for sale.
How have we improved vendor leads?
Agents want to see their partners innovating and investing to drive efficiencies while offering great value for money. Zoopla is doing just that with our team focused on investing and innovating to support agents to win more business.
Our increased, industry-leading marketing spend, above-the-line crabs advertising campaign and product innovations including the new Property Valuation Report, revamped AgentFinder tool and improvements to our site, are driving the highest quality leads to agents, setting them up to thrive in a more challenging market environment.
We are outspending any other portal on marketing and advertising, having increased our marketing spend by 23% in Q1 2019. A key example of this is the previously mentioned ‘crabvert’, which was seen by approximately 90% ABC1 adults (equivalent to 26.3 million people).
Our Zoopla and local agent co-branded Property Valuation Report is powered by Hometrack data and is currently being used by agents in over 50 locations. The data in these reports was previously reserved for banks, mortgage lenders and surveyors, however it is now available to empower our agents with the data they need and want to stand out during market appraisals and win new business. Crucially, our Property Valuation Reports also help agents price new instructions accurately and act as an independent tool when managing vendor expectations, both of which are key elements to success in the current market conditions.
Another agent focused investment we’ve dedicated time to is our re-launched AgentFinder tool which has been designed to drive more and better-quality vendor leads to agents. We invested heavily in revamping this product which helps match consumers with the most suitable agents in their local market. Since relaunching it at the beginning of this year we’ve seen a 62% increase in visits to the AgentFinder page.
This is just the start. We have real momentum now and will continue to innovate and invest throughout 2019, with our sole aim centred around generating the best value for money to agents.