Is this the end of the road for property portal dominance? What comes next?

Online property portals, dominated by a handful of websites, are by far the most popular home search method, which largely explains why estate agents spend so much money on maintaining an online presence that goes beyond simply listing properties on their own website, but that could be about to change.

New research by communications agency Oracle, in partnership with YouGov, finds that just 28% of 18-24 year-olds cite property portals, such as  Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket, as the information source they most trust when looking for a home to rent or buy, in sharp contrast to 45% of 25-34 year-olds and 43% of 35-44 year-olds.

Oracle worked with YouGov to ask a representative sample of people what one source of information they trust most when looking for a home to buy or rent. The surprising drop-off in the 18-24 group favouring portals reflects a wider trend amongst Generation Z who tend to be wary of traditional advertising and product campaigns, instead preferring influencers, social proof and personal recommendations.

Oracle’s research bears this out as around one in six (16%) 18-24 year-olds surveyed were more likely to place their faith in other people’s reviews and recommendations via sources such as Trustpilot significantly more than those in the older age groups (10% 45-54s and 8% 55+). Additionally, just under a quarter – 23% – Generation Z potential home-movers would most  trust a personal interaction with an estate agent or letting agent.

Just as the growing presence of web-savvy Millennials aided the rapid rise of property portals in the post-recession property market, Oracle and YouGov’s data indicates disruption may be on the way as Generation Z come of age as home-movers with far different patterns of buyer behaviour.

Caroline Coskry, chair of The Oracle Group, commented: “Websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla have been central to British house-hunting habits for around two decades now, but that dominance could soon be disrupted. Our research shows Generation Z place far less faith in portals than the generations that came before them, opening the door for new forms of property marketing to win their trust with tactics based around authenticity and social proof.”

The FMCG and fashion worlds have seen changes in recent years thanks to the emergence of platforms such as TikTok Marketplace and Depop which elevate Generation Z-friendly creator content, recommendations and influencer driven selling. Trends which may well signal the future direction of the property market as developers and agents look to capture the attention of younger buyers and renters.

Coskry added: “Understanding what sources of information people put their trust in is a vital part of how we support our property clients, and that’s exactly what we set out to discover in this research. We hope that by shining a light on this forward-looking trend, the industry can prepare itself for how to reach the next generation of buyers and renters. In recent years Oracle has achieved great results for clients with influencer-driven campaigns and we fully expect this trend to continue.”

All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,054 adults.



Email the story to a friend!


  1. Chris Arnold

    The Survey Said….

    Opinion is subjective and often based upon loaded questions that provide the data result required.

    Magicians use this trick all the time.  As do so called Marketing Experts that believe data defines marketing – always do what had previously worked.

    The consequence of which is mind -numbingly boring marketing without a shred of creativity and no compelling message.


  2. Robert_May

    The only reason the portals still have a grip on the industry is the sycophantic  support network they have; people who will talk down innovation or change because their own business or own self is reliant on the group-think idea that sales only happen, because of the portals, wider audience blah blah blah. the property industry version  of ‘No-one ever got sacked for recommending IBM’

    Before Ros Renshaw left EAT  I remember a discussion with Peebee I told him what would happen if someone built a system that challenged the duopoly. Me being me I  built a system to do just that and prove a point. (I think that makes it at least 10 – nil me Peebee!)


    All the stuff portals and CRM system cannot do will change the industry, there are 300 million (£) reason why change is inevitable but the reason change is frustrated is because of those sat at the top of the service supply industry who are not brave enough to be first movers

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Personally, what I took from the research has nothing to do with the portals at all.

    Those poor, poor deluded youngsters – I wouldn’t trust a TrustPilot review (or equivalent) as far as I could throw it.  They are at best a guide and at worst a scam.

    And when the market is busy, are you really going to wait for a friend to recommend a property to you.  “What do you mean it’s sold already? It’s only got one review!”

    As time goes on I have become less and less engaged with social media.  I’ve binned X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter).  I haven’t logged into Instagram in over a year.  Facebook I use to remind me of birthdays and nothing more.  LinkedIn drives me nuts but is the one that I’m likely to keep up with although I have read less than 5 posts in the last 12 months.

    And “influencer” as far as I can tell is the modern version of the snake oil sales person.

    This whole AI/ ChatBot thing is only going to make that worse.

    Give me a real human being, face-to-face any day of the week.

    1. Robert_May

      Actually AI will make things better; right now ( the last time I looked in detail) there were 332 average lumps of traffic to a sale. that’s 332 engagements that could be measured. 80% of that traffic was unique to each home listed. I finally understood what Richard Powell described as “the problem of volume”

      AI has the ability to deal with that volume  issue and as the internet changed things enough for Nick and James Leeming to lead innovation in the mid 90’s that loosened the grip of #local property advertising in the papers AI could be the important flap of a butterfly’s wing that will loosen the dominance of the aggregating portals

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Whilst I completely get your point and would on the face of it agree, my main problem is that AI will be used to increase the volume of engagements even more.

        Imagine an app that provides each person searching for a property a virtual assistant to ask their questions for them… Essentially that’s the logical course of events.

        A typical listing states how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and etc. but the virtual assistant will be tasked with asking this and more.  Your AI chatbot answering service is going to be overrun with essentially useless enquiries, the answers to which will mostly be ignored because that’s what buyers have always been like.

        Price, number of bedrooms, location, general condition, photos – these are the important “should we book an appointment” questions.  Everything else is spurious detail that just gets in the way.

        I foresee AI Chatbot hell incoming.

        1. Robert_May

          Personal computers  were going to play havoc with agency, in the end the service suppliers who built systems that solved  volume problems triumphed over those that did stuff that computers can do but was no good to agents.


          I recently tested some AI where it was obvious the creator hadn’t thought about the application- all it did was tell me to do what I knew I had to do. “Sorry I can’t help with that, call a human”


          AI will deal with the ‘I’ve seen a board on……. how much is it?”, that’s the equivalent of the  DOS systems that printed out 250 labels. its all agent need it to do- the resource that was dealing with 250 labels is freed up to do the stuff PCs and now AI can’t.

          The chatbot hell won’t happen, consumers will use the rubbish systems once, figure out they’re junk and not return. agents will wonder how come they were duped  and group-thunk again and stop paying the bill leaving  AI Guru with another failed ‘this time next year Rodney’

          What AI does and what AI requires to do what it does changes things, it changes things neither the CRM system nor the portals can cope with for 2 reasons; they don’t have the staff with the domain  knowledge and experience to know what they HAVE to do and 90+ system all being tailored to a new industry standard is less likely than an unlikely thing.

          Someone has got to build something that fits in with Connells/CW, LSL, Spicer, Arun, Lomond etc that also  fits with Danny, Charles, Sameer, Jane, Lucy AND those whose very mention will rile all of the above.


          Because there has to be a something that fits all, some people will grab the opportunity that creates and others will wait for someone to build a system to provide the opportunity and catch up with the others

    2. FindProperties

      I agree 100% with the Anonymous Coward.  I toyed with incorporating ‘social-media-esque’ functionality into Find Properties.  But imagine trying to sell a house that has been trolled all over social media for being overpriced/a hovel?

      I think people overthink portals sometimes.  All that’s required is one aggregated platform containing all properties, that directly connects consumers to estate agents.  Simple.

      As for influencers – surely people need to be more diligent than listening to the hollow, biased words of an individual being paid to promote something?

      1. DHJ

        Doesn’t your last sentence describe estate agents? Portal to vendor, that’s the future…

  4. Hit Man

    The younger generation are more savvy and look everywhere for properties its only the Agents that’s paying for the portals thats keeping them going, it make’s absolutely no difference what portals the agents use many don’t use any and still sell property.

  5. Woodentop

    So Trust Pilot advertise properties …… get a grip! Surely this must be a reference who who they believe they should trust to go to. That is certainly something that has been on the rise and the young ones don’t like the old ways which work. Not trendy enough!


    One day a revolution will arrive with on-line 4D home viewing, Science fiction today or is it?  It is here, but no available commercially to the masses. Someone is going to make more than a few £trillion when they get it working.


    I think the whole sorry report by Oracle is a hoax …………………. like many surveys.


    New research by communications agency Oracle, in partnership with YouGov, finds that just 28% of 18-24 year-olds cite property portals, such as  Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket, as the information source they most trust when looking for a home to rent or buy, in sharp contrast to 45% of 25-34 year-olds and 43% of 35-44 year-olds.


    If this is the case where does the 72% of younger generation go! Clearly not to where properties are being advertised …. give me a break. Market goes to where the product is advertised.

  6. London Agent

    Are 20 year olds buying property? Or will their habits change (by choice, or by predominance of the portals) when they get to buying age?

    There’s no doubt that direct interaction with a trusted individual is more powerful than a listing on Rightmove.

  7. Scott Gunn

    Is this the end of the road for property portal dominance?


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.