In these tougher times, we recognise that helping agents win new inventory is the key to their businesses.
There were more than 2.2 million moves in the housing market last year, with a higher number of new lets than sales for the tenth year in a row.
Turnover underpins agents’ revenues and the growth in renting over the last decade has seen agents diversify their revenues. Despite flat sales volumes and increased uncertainty amongst consumers, 80% of agents we surveyed at the end of 2018 expect overall revenues to grow or remain stable in 2019. Revenue expectations were weakest in lettings as a result of the lettings fees ban.
We know that agents are adapting their strategies and tactics to help them win business and stay competitive in a more challenging market.
Our State of the Property Nation report highlighted three areas where agents are planning to do more in 2019 to stay ahead: more investment in technology, increasing marketing spend and providing more advice to customers on how to maximise the price of their home.
Investment and innovation
Agents want to see their partners innovating and investing to drive efficiencies while offering great value for money. Zoopla is doing just that with the team focused on investing and innovating to support agents to win more business.
Where and how we invest and innovate is important to have the greatest impact. While sales volumes are down, households are still engaged in the market – over a quarter of households surveyed described their current status as ‘active’, looking to either buy, rent or sell a property.
More interestingly, almost half of households describe themselves as ‘browsing’, waiting for the right property to come to the market.
Portals start the journey
Property portals are the place where consumers start their home buying journey and gain their information while keeping engagement levels high, which in turn benefits the agents who list with them.
Zoopla has always been the place that consumers come to do research based on reliable data around such things as house prices and local housing market activity.
We have increased our focus on engaging these consumers such that sellers and landlords chose to identify an agent through Zoopla. Examples of how we do this include our recently launched AgentFinder service and Property Valuation Report, both of which capture vendors in the early stage of their thinking.
We are planning to do more to stimulate the market and to keep consumers engaged on housing using data and analysis – the sole aim is to drive leads and traffic to you when consumers tip over the edge from being a sofa surfer and into a savvy searcher or would-be seller looking for advice on the value of their home.
Align and personalise your offering
It’s also important that agents think about how they can best align messaging to what customers are looking for and engage with their customer base through marketing and offering tools, information and insights which help address their needs.
The State of the Property Nation report highlighted a mis-alignment between what consumers are looking for from an agent and what agents think is most important.
For consumers, the top three priorities are to be transparent on fees and process, negotiate the best price and value for money.
Sales is important but there are other routes to drive engagement and build up a list of active buyers. For example, 80% of first-time buyers are renters so engaging with renters and offering advice on buying a home using tools on Zoopla is one option.
All the above leads to using insights and data that are relevant to your audience. It sounds simple enough, but data is often not leveraged to full potential to surface the right information at the right time, given it can really help you stand out from the crowd.
What this amounts to for today’s property hunter is: timely relevant insight, authentic advice and personalisation.
*Charlie Bryant is Managing Director at Zoopla