Strong demand kicks off New Year as national lockdown looms

Post-Christmas new enquiries to estate agents surged when compared to the last full business week before Christmas as people finished digesting seasonal excesses and turned their minds to the future once more and resumed their hunt for agents to help them move or manage properties, the latest Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.

Vendors were up 63% on the last full week before Christmas (w/e 22 Dec), while buyers leapt 73%, landlords 19% and tenants 40% to indicate continued exceptional demand in the market despite the record activity in the second half of 2020 during the coronavirus crisis, the data for the week ending midnight 3 January showed.

But with coronavirus multiply rapidly across the UK, the numbers come with a note of caution as more lockdown restrictions are likely to be imposed in the short term and the tight deadline of 31 March for people to benefit from the government stamp duty holiday is looking increasingly unachievable.

With people unwilling or unable to have face-to-face meetings with agents, the shift online shows every sign of accelerating further when it comes to property transactions. The number of visitors to own-branded estate agent websites was 8% up on the same week last year, while the number of people engaging in real-time live chat online was 14% higher, and the number of leads being generated some 31% higher.

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 20 December 2020. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 47 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

“This is a tough market to call, but the strength of new enquiries between Christmas and New Year is incredible. In the week between Christmas and New Year, a time when many agents simply shut, we have seen people chomping at the bit to get moving, and around 60% of those enquiries also came outside of standard business hours,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder & CEO.

“With tighter Covid restrictions on the cards, the digital presence for estate agents is absolutely key for building relationships with prospective and existing customers. As we saw in the first lockdown last March and April, those agents offering digital channels such as live chat and virtual viewings will be best placed in this next phase of the disaster that coronavirus is,” 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.

Note all comparisons with w/e 20 Dec 2020.

New vendors surged 62.94%, or 38.12 points, to end the week on 98.69, which left them 9% below the same week last year (when the first people entered the market after the 2019 election and the Brexit political shambles of the time) but at around average pre-covid-19 levels.

Buyers rose 73.16%, or 48.68 points, to close at 115.22, some 15% above the pre-covid-19 average and 15% above the same week last year.

Landlords jumped 18.85%, or 12.45 points, to finish at 78.51, some 21% below the average but and 16% below the same week in 2020.

Tenants rose 39.52%, or 29.02 points, to close at 102.46, some 2% above the pre-covid-19 average and 40% 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 45 million visitors to estate agent websites from Jan 2019 – 3 January 2021 and shows how web traffic (blue line) is 8% 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 14% and 31%, respectively, above the same week 2020.


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