Given that around 95% of property searches now start online, it is more important than ever that an agent has an effective online presence that goes beyond just having their own website, and that inevitably means listing homes on the major property websites.
When it comes to the main portals in this country, there are, as you will be well aware, just a handful of major players in the industry, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket, which between them list the vast majority of properties for sale and to let.
But while the property portal sector is dominated by a small number of websites, there are others with a different focus and specialist criteria looking to muscle into the marketplace, and joining the group of ‘emerging’ online platforms is The World Property Network (TWPN), a global property portal that claims to offer UK estate agents international reach to overseas buyers looking buy property in the UK.
The company’s group chairman, Peter Mansfield, a former British Airways Captain, claims that agents now have a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to capture this international market, but insists that the vast majority are currently overlooking it.
So we have taken this opportunity to talk to Peter to see whether TWPN could potentially help your company increase sales and boost revenue.
Peter, you claim that many UK estate agents are missing a trick by ignoring the international market place. Why is this market so important in the existing climate?
Home grown property portals have a proven domestic track record but not international reach. These portals are not seeing the volume of enquiries from UK buyers that they enjoyed pre-Brexit.
Additionally, overseas buyers are increasingly looking to invest in the UK but can’t find the properties. Agents have a fantastic opportunity to capture this international market, which many are currently overlooking
Are international buyers still purchasing properties in the UK in light of Brexit?
TWPN is seeing a steady stream of international buyers coming to the UK. With the British pound now worth significantly less against many leading currencies following Brexit, investors believe they can get more bang for their buck in the UK.
With regards to foreign nationals, where are buyers coming from?
According to published research by Knight Frank, the Chinese are the biggest buyers of new-build residential accommodation globally, followed by the Singaporeans and the British.
Knight Frank has previously looked at the nationality of buyers in prime central London. Of those buyers who were not UK nationals in 2013, they estimate that 16.5% were Europeans, 9.1% were from Russia and other former Soviet Union states and 7.5% were from the Middle East.
They estimate that, within the high-end prime London market, 32% of buyers are international. This figure includes ‘Londoners who happen to have overseas origins’.
Although we haven’t analysed our data and it is early days for TWPN, these statistics align with the trends that we are seeing.
Where in the UK are overseas purchasers currently looking to buy property?
Overseas buyers are prevalent in prime central London and new build markets are especially attracting international interest. Prime London as a whole comprises 8% of the total market, according to the same report by Knight Frank.
So only agents in Prime Central London should consider listing with TWPN?
Absolutely not. Overseas investors are prevalent in prime central London, but as you can it comprises only 8% of the market.
The Midlands and North West are also of great interest to overseas buyers, particularly cities with good travel links and new build developments like Birmingham and Manchester.
Is TWPN’s proposition any different to your competitors in the UK, like Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket?
TWPN has developed a pricing structure for property listing that is significantly cheaper than the existing property portal operators around the world.
TWPN website operates in 70 different languages and 32 different currencies. The portal offers a dynamic and user-friendly experience for both the public and the property industry.
TWPN has also developed a unique white labelling proposition for agents. By using the technology that we have already created, it is able to offer property developers and estate agents their own branded site that we will host. These sites benefit from the on-going development of the TWPN software as new features and functionality are added and provide functionality not normally available to agents who develop their own sites.
Launching TWPN TV with Property TV on Sky 238 has also been fantastic and a great opportunity for us to widen the exposure of the properties on our portal.
As an advertising platform, why is it important for agents to list properties on TWPN?
We believe we offer opportunities to market properties on an international level that other portals don’t.
We are working with the most cutting edge technology, and with the advent of Smart Mobile, tablet and ‘catch up’/‘on demand’ technology, we believe TV exposure is ‘a must’ for all forward-thinking estate agents and property developers in the current, fast changing global property market.
With our Property TV programmes on Sky, we hope to lead the way in making TV accessible and the norm for agents to showcase their properties.
In terms of leads, traffic and listings, how does TWPN compare with the main UK property portals?
As TWPN is new to the UK marketplace our traffic numbers are still building. We are developing the optimisation of the site to an advanced level and this is increasing site traffic daily.
What greater successes, if any, have UK agents seen since working with TWPN?
Statons Estate Agents LLP, a six branch north London based agency, specialising in sales and letting, have seen a 25% uplift in sales and instructions since Christmas, following a website makeover from TWPN.
Since investing in and launching its new website and web based app, Statons is enjoying improved sales and letting using TWPN branded and created website technology.
Utilising multi-layered interactive mapping, site visitors can view the Statons properties in 72 languages and 32 world currencies, updated in real time, representing 98% of the most used currencies.
TWPN is giving Statons the edge on the competition, especially with the introduction of the TWPN TV Sky television option.
Due to their association with a new truly global reach property portal, buyers both within the UK and overseas can view properties in the currency and language of their choice. The site shows where the property location is and all the surrounding schools, travel options and more.
Which UK agents are you working with at the moment?
We are working with an increasing number of UK agents, including Statons.
TWPN’s portal currently offers over 350,000 worldwide properties for sale from over 1,200 agents.
How much does it cost to list properties on TWPN?
TWPN is currently offering three months free listings on its main site and after that its costs from £99 a month.
What do you say to those agents who believe that advertising on TWPN is too expensive?
We offer services that aren’t available through any other property portal, as well as the opportunity to appear on Sky Property TV, at prices significantly cheaper than other portals.
What additional services, such as stats and local info, does TWPN offer for both consumers and agents? Are they worth having?
Our search functions are among the most highly developed of any property portal, and allow people searching TWPN to conduct very specific and sophisticated searches into the type and location of their desired property.
We offer multi-layered interactive maps with worldwide coverage, automatic ‘Global Geo-Coder’ for all property locations taken from clients feeds, 20 different property location icons to see what’s near any specific property including schools, travel options, leisure facilities, and so forth.
In addition, the portal provides a cleaner user interface with a unique multi-category search tool, properties found through search-engines that always match criteria searched, as well as valuable financial and support services for buyers and investors.
Is TWPN affected by OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal’ rule?
No, at the moment, TWPN is not part of the one portal rule.
What does the future hold for TWPN?
TWPN will shortly be announcing some significant partnerships with major long-term established property companies, and are currently engaged in advanced negotiations.
These relationships will cover a number of countries across North America, South America, the Caribbean, and indeed Europe, including the UK and Cyprus.
*Marc Da Silva is Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today Features Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @propertyjourno