What this means for letting agents is that potential tenants who have undertaken detailed research before approaching agents are ‘warmer’ leads, whereas those with little-to-no knowledge still remain in the dark about what is most suitable for them and consume more of an agent’s time.
We are trying fill this gap by providing a platform in which tenants are able to do their research in a timely, cost efficient and transparent manner, resulting in a greater uptake of warmer leads suitable for agents to serve.
Present state of the marketplace
The current state of the property marketplace is one which is driven by three key trends:
- As tenants’ needs have become more complex and increasingly lifestyle driven, the property search process has become a time-consuming task often seen as tiresome and laborious.
- Some tenants are less trusting of the advice delivered by agents and typically have found inconsistencies in the services historically provided.
- Few tools currently exist which accurately and efficiently support tenants in their search for a lifestyle-driven property - giving them results which are contextually relevant.
As we see a growth of the PRS, particularly in London, tenants are continuing to find the relocation process stressful, archaic and opaque, especially when it comes to the quality of information surrounding the selection of an area and a property.
These ultimately result in experiences which remain unappealing for the majority of people. Using new platforms, tenants will be able to lead their search by outlining their requirements and priorities resulting in a smart, contextually-led listing of properties that fit their needs.
Lifestyle as a priority
The increased demands for lifestyle-led properties is supported by research from Foxtons which shows that up to 33% of applicants end up settling into a home outside of their initial property search area.This shows that tenants are flexible in finding the right neighbourhood that fulfils their needs. Supporting this, is further insight from Santander which shows that the five most important factors for applicants when searching for homes are:
- Proximity to work
- Proximity to public transport
- More space
- Within catchment area of good schools
- Proximity to parks
With only one of these factors relating to the actual property itself, it has become clear that going forward, lifestyle-based factors will drive the demand for property by tenants.
By placing these factors at the forefront of innovation in property search, tenants will be better-equipped to address the nuances and complexity of a lifestyle-driven search.
Agents can take advantage of changing behaviour
If tenant needs and the way they search for properties have evolved, what does this mean for lettings agents, and how can they leverage this trend to their advantage?
After all, tenants that are matched to properties on a deeply personal level are likely to be more engaged and motivated leads, and may stay in the property for longer.
Further research from Santander found that these tenants would be willing to pay more for their new home if it were optimised for these lifestyle needs, meaning that the right lead could add several hundred pounds in additional lettings fees earned from any given property.
There are three actions every agent can take to make the most of this trend. First, agents can improve the quality of location information around each property, including the proximity to key amenities in local area maps and highlighting factors that affect the daily realities of living in a particular area, such as proximity to the tenant’s favourite supermarket and how long their commute will take.
Second, agents can focus on building trust from the first point of contact with the lead, for example by avoiding advertising properties that aren’t available, and making it as frictionless as possible when it comes to registering applicants in your systems.
Finally, agents can work with companies such as SearchSmartly. Startups like us use technology to do the heavy lifting for the tenant, helping them discover the homes best suited for their deeply personal needs.
As a result, the leads received by agents on the platform are of higher quality. These leads also come at a much lower risk than the status quo, as agents don’t pay anything unless the lead converts, at which point a success fee is paid.
The property search tide is turning, and those agents that take advantage of this to improve the quality of the leads they receive will stand to benefit the most.
*Taha Dar is CEO of SearchSmartly