The head of a new property portal is urging agents to forget about spending money on For Sale and To Let boards and instead put the cash into digital strategies.
Christopher May, director of free-to-list property portal Residential People, says boards are subject to growing numbers of bans by local authorities and are the focus of disillusionment from consumers.
May believes that despite being an effective market tool in the past, boards have become less effective in modern times where consumer behaviour continues to shift online.
The issue of boards became a hot topic again recently as Camden council in London urged the government to back its request for a borough-wide Section 7 direction which would see all boards banned unless planning consent was secured.
The London authority described boards as “clutter” and “free advertising”, reporting that it has received over 1,000 complaints about For Sale and To Let signs from residents over the last five years.
"In areas where boards are banned, the decision for agents is already made and they can use the additional marketing budget to focus on innovative digital strategies" says May, who is also director of a sister website, Commercial People.
The portal's research shows that in 1997 when the UK's first portal Propertyfinder was launched, only 7.39 per cent of the UK's population used the internet; by 2002, shortly after Rightmove was launched, 56.48 per cent of the population used the internet.
More recently, in 2016, an overwhelming 94.78 per cent of the UK population used the internet with a growing use of the medium across all age groups, not just younger people.
"Agents have an exponentially greater market of all demographics to target than ever before via portals and other online marketing methods, from first-time buyers and second-steppers to landlords and downsizers. Digital marketing allows agents to track results effectively and then shift spend, approach or messaging accordingly to get the most out of their budget" May explains.
"For Sale and To Let boards may be good for brand awareness, but unlike online marketing, boards less likely to generate leads beyond the local area."
Launched earlier this year, Residential People and Commercial People are global portals, now with over 900,000 listings from agents in the UK, UAE, India and South Africa, and with more launches planned.