New enquiries up 36% year-on-year

New enquiries to UK estate agents remained unseasonably buoyant in the past week as levels overall were 36% higher than the same week last year, although volumes of new market opportunities continued to slow after exceptional peaks were hit in the second half of 2020, the latest Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) shows.

With coronavirus restrictions of varying severity remaining in place nationwide, people seemed to be swapping Christmas shopping for visiting estate agents online, with traffic to agent websites 30% higher than the same week last year – delivering 25% more vendor leads, 35% more buyer leads, and 11% more landlord leads – as people jostled to get into the market before the end of year holiday period.

Despite the higher-than-normal new enquiry volumes, new vendor leads were actually 10% down on the week, buyers 3% down and landlords 6% down. Tenants bucked the trend to grow 10%.

Yomdel provides 24/7 managed live chat services to 3,800 estate agent offices in the UK, handling more than a 1.5m chats per year. It has analysed the data and leads captured in live chat going back to January 2019, up until week ending 6 December 2020. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 45 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

“We’re seeing new leads from prospective vendors tracking at 25% above levels we’d ordinarily expect in the immediate run up to Christmas and it’s almost as if people are turning to estate agents online rather than traipsing around the sadly increasingly desolate high streets for Xmas shopping,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder & CEO.

“And while many may be asking agents to dish up the gift of stamp duty relief, the reality is the 31 March deadline is looking unachievable now, although lobbying of the chancellor is increasing to extend the deadline. All eyes need to turn to what will happen in early 2021 and the question of whether there is more demand to be found in a market that may be nearing exhaustion,” he added.

The YPST methodology establishes a base line average shown as 100% or 100, calculated according to average engagement values over the 62 weeks prior to the lockdown, and plots movements from there according to the volumes of people engaging in live chat, their stated needs, questions asked, and new business leads generated. Data is measured over full 24-hour periods.

New vendors lost 9.62%, or 8.89 points, to end the week on 83.49, which left them 16% below the pre-covid-19 62-week average, but 25% above the same week in 2019.

Buyers dropped 3.16%, or 2.85 points, to close at 87.36, some 12% below the pre-covid-19 average but 35% above the same week last year.

Landlords fell 6.28%, or 5.95 points, to finish at 88.80, some 11% below the average but 11% higher than the same week in 2019.

Tenants were the stars of the week rising 10.39%, or 8.38 points, to close at 89.02, some 11% below the pre-covid-19 average but 52% higher than the same week last year.

The following graph looks at the relationship between website visitor volumes, live chat volumes and the volume of leads generated. The data samples more than 44 million visitors to estate agent websites from Jan 2019 – 6 December and shows how web traffic (blue line) is 30% higher than the same week last year. The volume of people using live chat (red line) and the numbers of new business leads captured (purple line) are 26% and 36%, respectively, above the same week 2019.

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