As the impact of coronavirus unfolds, we are in constant conversations with customers to understand the challenges they’re facing and to ensure we’re making the best decisions to support them.
We’ve been struck by how much agents are doing to keep afloat - innovating, seizing opportunities, and asking for help when needed.
Evolving online consumer behaviour
Without doubt, many are continuing to drive efficiencies and embrace new technology.
We’ve seen big increases in agents using virtual viewings - our AdReach team has recorded a 215% surge in video tours of new build homes.
This ongoing activity is vital to nurturing sales pipelines once the build up to recovery gets into gear.
Day-to-day, we’re pleased to report that property listings are holding steady, as consumers work closely with agents to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Indeed, the number of homes for sale per estate agent on zoopla.co.uk is only 1% lower now than it was on March 7.
The online audience is still there, too. With the time consumers spend online continuing to skyrocket, we feel that making sure your brand is front-of-mind for consumers is key to safeguarding future sales.
After an initial decline in early March, we’ve seen consumer browsing behaviour stabilise and peak in new areas.
Recent research from our AdReach team suggests, perhaps unsurprisingly, that consumers are spending more time on social media during the week - presenting new opportunities for agents to get their brand message out in new places.
The need for liquidity
Opportunities aside, we have had to accept that the industry is facing one of its biggest ever challenges. That said, having been through a recession and survived Brexit uncertainty (which now seems so long ago), our industry has developed a thick skin.
While the challenge itself is unprecedented, the way forward in the immediate future for everyone remains the same: controlling costs until the market rebounds.
For our part, we recognised very early into the crisis that we needed to do something to provide much-needed liquidity for agents.
On March 13, we offered new and existing Zoopla customers two very specific plans. We developed these to free up agent resources, and enable them to divert cash flow to where their businesses needed it most.
The first plan offered a three-month free period, but also included an option for us to extend this out to five months free if the government lockdown led to a prolonged period of market disruption.
We’ve now activated that option, so that the five months free will become the standard. For those who have signed the three-month deal, the contract will be amended automatically to move this up to five months.
Our aim is still the same: making a meaningful difference to our partners when they need it most. We’ll continue to review and update our offers based on what we’re hearing from our agents and the evolving guidance from the government.
We hope all of this demonstrates our commitment to safeguarding your business’s present and future.
It’s impossible for us to say for certain what the market will look like on the other side, or even when that ‘other side’ will be.
We can, however, reassure agents that our Research and Insight team is using the growing body of coronavirus market data - and combining it with their knowledge of past economic shocks - to build a detailed picture of when and how the market will recover.
Our most recent Cities Index report suggests prices may hold firm, on a foundation of government moves to stabilise incomes and shore up job security.
Whatever happens, our focus will always be to provide help where it’s needed. Our mission is not just to get agents through the crisis - but to support the agent community so that it’s in a position to thrive after.
We recognise the need to help our partners adapt to the new normal, and that ‘help’ can take many different forms.
To find out more about our plans, and specifically the recent update that extends our three-month free plan to five months free, click here.
*Andy Marshall is Chief Commercial Officer at Zoopla