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Agents advised: Don't head off ho-ho-home too early this Christmas

Estate and letting agents are being warned not to slow down too early in the run up to Christmas as it can be a valuable time for current and future business.

The ValPal Network, which represents 800 agency brands and more than 4,000 branches, says that every year it speaks to agents who admit they are slashing marketing activity and hours until the New Year.

According to the Network, however, this could be a risky strategy. 

Its figures show that during last winter, agents generated over 80,000 vendor and landlord leads from instant online valuations; in addition, agents' Facebook ad campaigns - designed to drive traffic to their valuation tools - were most successful last December as well as January and February of this year.

The Network says many of its member agents enjoyed more leads through these social media ad campaigns than through any other advertising activity throughout the year.

There are also well-publicised figures from Rightmove, which show traffic spiking over Christmas as consumers use down-time to search for a new home. According to the portal, it received over 25m page views on Boxing Day 2016 and 38m on New Year's Day 2017.

"Slowing down activity in the run up to Christmas could be costly for agents. It's important that you're always planning ahead for the next few months, dedicating time and effort to securing new instructions," says Craig Vile, The ValPal Network’s director.

"We live in a changing world which doesn't come to a complete standstill. Consumers will happily look for their next home or start the process of selling their home over the Christmas break. There are also more agents competing than ever before, so you don't want to miss out on business to a rival just because you've taken your foot off the pedal for the festive season" he adds.

Vile warns that if agents stop promoting their business in late autumn, the next few months will be particularly quiet. He says those keeping an eye on the ball can change the messaging of their marketing campaigns for the Christmas period to have maximum effect.

"You may want to create urgency for vendors and landlords, reminding them that Christmas and the New Year are a busy time for the market so they need to list properties. Or you may want to run a special festive offer or competition to drum up interest" says Vile.

"The key is to make sure that all of your marketing and business activity is tailored to what your agency needs. For example, if you’re struggling to shift properties, there’s no point targeting anything at vendors and landlords - you should be targeting applicants instead.”

One TVPN member agent - Martin Gibbon, director of Balgores Property Group, with 12 branches throughout Essex and Kent - says: "The Christmas period is a great time to market an estate agency brand as there is a ‘feel good’ attitude and families come together and spend time at home. This can trigger the desire to move home and/or area.

"Our busiest time for new buyers registering is from Boxing Day through to the end of January. However this doesn’t convert into sales until a few months later. Making sure the company and its brand has received maximum exposure is key to get ahead of the competition."

The ValPal Network - a product of Angels Media, publisher of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today - recently revealed that its members generated over 100,000 leads in October, the first time this milestone has been achieved.

Data analysis found that 18 per cent of the online sales valuations its members generated over a two-year period went on to complete with HM Land Registry.

TVPN says its members had the opportunity to earn £363m in potential commission from the leads generated between January 2016 and the end of December 2017, and suggests its average member generates 33 online sales valuation leads each month, potentially earning £22,000 in monthly commission.

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