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By Dominic Grace

Senior Adviser, Outra


It's time agents took a leaf out of Amazon's book

Last year was not one for the faint hearted. Now, at last, the market appears to be experiencing a gradual uptick. Recent data indicates a 13% increase in the number of new properties coming to the market for sale compared to last year, coupled with a 7% rise in prospective buyers contacting estate agents. *

But, at the same time, new data from HMRC revealed the number of UK residential property transactions in January 2024 was 10% lower than the same month in 2023. 

So, while there is a more promising outlook, it’s crucial to recognise 2024 is unlikely to be a vintage year for agents. So, it’s time to start thinking a little differently. To secure more instructions and maintain a competitive edge, the industry must look beyond the old ways and embrace techniques that are now commonplace elsewhere - online shopping, for example. But how?


When it comes to winning new instructions – the lifeblood of all agents – sales professionals have relied heavily on their local brand, personal connections and endless, inefficient maildrops to sniff out their next sales mandate. And, let’s be honest, it’s a lot of hard work. But, in today’s more competitive and data-driven market, surely there’s got to be more out there to give an enterprising agent the edge and ensure their office till rings more often than their rivals? A way that data can be used to beat a path towards those potential customers heading for the market, but still caught in the decision of exactly when and how? 

Online footprint 

It’s already happening in other consumer sectors. Let’s think about Amazon for a moment. The Californian tech giant has, for a while now, been tapping into a pre-emptive customer journey. Although it may spook us when an advert pops up urging us to buy something that looks eerily similar to the product we were searching for only a couple of days before, Amazon and its kind have an impressive understanding of customer behaviour. The ads they prompt us with are based on our online footprint. They harness a buyer’s browsing and purchase history and make a prediction about what a shopper might buy next.

It’s time to start using that in the property market. Ultra-sophisticated residential data is now available to estate agents via Outra – a disruptive data business armed with predictive technology that’s rewriting the playbook through its ability to forecast the properties set to come on the market in the next six months. It’s like having a crystal ball – a game changer in an industry where staying one step ahead of the competition is everything.

But this isn’t your standard crystal ball prediction. Outra takes its predictions from a sea of household level data – market trends, sales history, and behavioural quirks – to land a tactical advantage to agents. The more information there is available on household behaviour and demographics, the more accurate the prediction of the most likely potential home movers becomes. Mail bombing entire areas to find where the most likely movers are to be found suddenly starts to look a little antiquated. Sales teams can strategically target individual addresses at the precise moment opportunity knocks: a far more efficient route to identifying potential instructions than entering that wasteful cycle of junk mail.

Timing reigns supreme in real estate. Predictive data based on income and household behaviour gives agents the power to approach property owners before their listings hit the public stage. It’s time we all took a leaf out of Amazon’s book and started using data and technology for our own purposes.   


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