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Online agents’ weak spots: they don’t appeal to high value sellers in key regions

The share of the market taken by online agencies in the final quarter of 2018 slipped from last summer’s high of 7.6 per cent to just 7.2 per cent.

However, for much of that final three months both Emoov and Tepilo were operating: it remains to be seen whether the collapse of those agencies in December will discourage vendors in the first quarter of this year.

The 7.2 per cent figure is in the latest TwentyCi Property & Homemover Report, a quarterly document assessing different aspects of the agency and property market.


TwentyCi identifies that online agents “are struggling to penetrate the market in the south [of England] and on properties over £200,000.”

For properties selling for less than £200,000 online agents saw a 4.0 per cent rise in share in the final quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in the previous year; but in the £200,000 to £350,000 category the share dropped 4.33 per cent; rom £350,000 to £1m the drop was almost as large, 3.33 per cent.

In regional terms the use of online agents has actually fallen back - substantially - in southern England.

TwentyCi reports that in the south east, comparing the final quarter of 2018 with the same period of 2017 - use of onliners dropped 19.7 per cent; in outer London the drop was 16.26 per cent and in inner London use was down 10.07 per cent.

There were declines too in south west England (down 9.05 per cent), Wales (a drop of 2.4 per cent) and East Anglia (down 1.49 per cent).

But onliners gained strongly in Scotland (up 49.82 per cent year on year), in the North East (up 38.37 per cent) and in Northern Ireland (up 34.09 per cent).

The TwentyCi Property & Homemover Report describes itself as the most comprehensive real time review of the UK housing market.

Colin Bradshaw, TwentyCi’s chief customer officer, says: “The unexpected demise of eMoov and the recent results of Purplebricks suggests the building of an online proposition continues to be challenged by the ability to win customers and build brand awareness especially in southern regions.

“Similar to the dot.com boom of the early 21st century, without a reduction in customer acquisition costs the current model remains significantly flawed. It remains a paradox of this market that online agents are doing better in the north where properties are generally cheaper compared to the south, however based on their fixed fee structures one might have reasonably expected this to have been the other way around.”

In terms of the wider market in the year ahead, Bradshaw says:  “An orderly Brexit and consumer confidence and pent up demand may be released fuelling a property market upturn. The opposite, as the Bank of England has warned, could cause a temporary but significant hiatus within the UK property market. Whilst many indicators show that property prices are remaining stable and not falling this is the undoubtedly the direct impact of a lack of supply.”

You can see the full TwentyCi report here.


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