Property voyeurism and the festive season have long been bedfellows for many Brits.
The heady combination of over-indulgence and regret, close proximity to distant relatives, and a home that is simply bursting at the seams, impels many to flock to the web and peruse dream properties where future Christmases might play out.
Factor in the deluge of resolutions made at the start of the New Year, and a compelling proposition emerges.
While this is not a new trend, it’s worth remembering that the size of the Christmas prize on offer, which unfurls largely from Boxing Day, is staggering.
Applicant leads are anticipated to rise by 85%, while valuation leads are expected to rise by 80% for Christmas 2019/20.
Zoopla alone registered an upsurge of 15 million site visits over the festive period of 2018/19, and that is forecast to rise by a further 1.26 million over Christmas and the New Year.
In addition, Google Trends show that property-related searches increased by anywhere between 50% and 100% on any given day between Christmas Eve and the dreaded ‘Blue Monday’ in late January.
Alongside these staggering figures, no longer is this a season of browsing, aspiration and Christmas wishes – December into January is now a prime period ripe with commercial potential for sales and lettings agents across the land.
So why does this matter to me?
Cutting to the chase, eight figure stats about lead generation and valuations are of course a feather in our cap as a business, but let’s not overlook the reality and the possibility that they crystalise.
Why do we work so hard to drive lead generation, to scrutinise where the greatest opportunities lie, and to drill down into what makes your customers engage with us? Because this is how we deliver value to our agent partners.
An increase in site visits for Zoopla is great for our SEO and search rankings, but in essence, this is about delivering those active, hungry, motivated applicants, across the sales and lettings landscape, to you.
And of course, it’s not just about applicants – this is about unlocking stock for sale and for rent, too.
It goes without saying that for the majority of buyers or renters, the sale or vacation of a property bolsters stock levels and buoys transaction figures.
Okay, I’m listening…
While some might regard Christmas as an opportunity for a few days off, a digital detox, and a turkey-induced slumber, this could see many cutting off their nose to spite their face.
When agency success relies so much on self-perpetuation and momentum, the question we should all be asking ourselves: how can we get in on this act? Who do we need to partner with to maximise this opportunity? What quick tips and tricks can we implement to ensure we aren’t left behind?
After all, who would shy away from a bit of extra effort, in exchange for a Q2 2020 bonus that bolsters them for the rest of the year?
Right, so how can I capitalise?
Many agents across the UK already orientate around the Christmas potential, and will have their own tried and tested approach to monetising the festive uplift.
That said, for others, and perhaps for those who don’t quite know where to begin, there are some simple actions that can stand you in good stead.
Here are my top tips for A Very Merry Christmas:
1) Unlock fresh stock
⮚ Stock is critical at this time of year. It draws in your audience and is integral to keeping them engaged.
⮚ If your stock is older and starting to languish, consider refreshing the property images, with a view to uploading them ready for the Boxing Day peak.
⮚ If you have new property ready to launch in the new year, don’t wait until January; again, prepare for a Boxing Day launch when eagle-eyed home hunters are yearning for new properties to whet their appetite.
⮚ And while it can be painful, have any conversations about price adjustments ahead of time; in a price sensitive market, it will only pique interest if the buyer can identify value.
2) Start matchmaking now
⮚ Make prospective buyers and renters aware of any hot properties that you are launching to market post-Christmas now. Tee up interest and get them in early for an off-market viewing if you can; alternatively, prepare to send an automated email on the stroke of midnight on December 26, which is ready to pique their interest in the morning.
3) Advertising and communication
⮚ Anything to drive awareness about your stock, your branch and your expertise helps to set you apart.
⮚ Whether it’s advertising in the local paper or paying for enhanced searchability online, a small investment could reap rewards in the long-term.
⮚ And don’t forget to either forward the office phones or set up a voicemail for when you’re closed during the festive season – this helps to avoid missed opportunities.
⮚ I’m biased, but being present on a property portal over Christmas is a sure fire way to maximise visibility of stock in front of home hunters, as well as driving valuation leads.
⮚ Don’t be deterred by the prospect of ‘long-term’ contracts – portals should be amenable to establishing a contract that works for you and your business needs, which provides a tangible financial return, without crippling fees.
5) Added extras
⮚ For those who are already listed on portals, it’s worth exploring opportunities for banner ads, property of the week opportunities, and any kind of Valuation Booster or AdReach service that supports you with very targeted marketing outreach.
And there we have it – the recipe for a successful festive season. Whatever you decide is right for you, being prepared and taking action as early as possible is the best way to maximise returns for Christmas and New Year 2019/20. We wish you every success.
*Andy Marshall is Chief Commercial Officer at Zoopla