Spring and post Covid optimism in the air for the housing market

Sentiment in the residential property market surged in the past week to its highest levels since last summer as people welcomed the government extension to the stamp duty holiday, support for 95% LTV mortgages, optimism over phenomenal coronavirus vaccination programme and general a general feel-good factor as spring arrived, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.

In the week to midnight Sunday, vendors soared almost 16% to finish 46% higher than the same week last year just before coronavirus restrictions were imposed; buyers were up 18% on the week and 52% year-on-year; landlords swept in to mark a record one week rise of 27% to end 16% higher than early March 2020; while tenants were flat week-on-week but 43% higher than a year earlier.

Digital traffic via estate agent own-branded websites soared even before the chancellor stepped down from the dispatch box after delivering his budget last week. Traffic overall was 43% higher than the same week last year, while the proportion engaging in live chat to make initial enquiries was up 34% year/year, which in turn delivered 29% more leads.

Yomdel provides 24/7 managed live chat services to 3,800 estate agent offices in the UK, handling more than a 1.9m chats per year. It has analysed the data and leads captured in live chat going back to January 2019, up until week ending 7 March February 2021. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 50 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

“To anyone who thought all demand had been sucked out of the market last year the message seems to be ‘you were wrong’. Spring is in the air, and last year’s atypical market shows every sign of repeating itself as people have turned to planning home moves as a prime lockdown activity. The extension to the stamp duty holiday has rekindled the fire and that is reflected in this week’s exceptional numbers,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder and CEO.

“There’s no reason this demand will subside any time soon and aside from the fresh wave of vendors, of particular interest to agents will be the rush of new landlords looking for help. Agents we work with tell us rental stock is seeing significant shortages in some areas or categories with tenants jostling to pay top money for their rents,” 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 first national lockdown on 23 March 2020, 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 were up 15.71%, or 23.15 points, to end the week on 170.49, some 70% above the average, 46% higher than the same week last year and at their highest level since early September.

Buyers, buoyed by the stamp duty holiday extension, surged 18.09%, or 27.66 points, to close at 180.53, 81% above the pre-covid-19 average, 52% above the same week 2020, and at their highest level since early August.

Landlords were the biggest gainers, soaring 26.56%, or 25.45 points, to 121.28, some 21% above the average and 16% higher than the same week last year.

Tenants were flat for a second week to end up 0.16%, or 0.20 points, to close at 123.50 some 24% above the pre-covid-19 average and 43% above 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 50 million visitors to estate agent websites from Jan 2019 – 7 March 2021 and shows how web traffic (blue line) is 43% 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 34% and 29%, respectively, above the same week 2020.

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