According to new data published by live-chat provider Yomdel, consumers making contact with agents via websites are sending an overwhelming message from deep within the coronavirus lockdown, saying: “We’re coming back and we need to move”.
For the week ending 19 April, the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST), which EYE first carried last week, shows new enquiries were up strongly across the board from vendors, landlords, buyers and tenants, signalling that pressure from pent up demand for home moving services was pushing against restrictions from the four-week-old government-imposed coronavirus lockdown.
With agency offices closed to the public, people unable to physically view properties, agents unable to visit to offer valuations, and removal companies barred from working, agents needed to look at alternative ways to engage with customers.
And it is the digital tools enabling virtual viewings, video conferencing or live chat on websites that, according to Yomdel, have boomed,
“There’s no doubt that people are embracing technology and are now thinking ahead. They’re wondering when they can move, they want to start planning, but they have loads of questions and feel quite uncertain about things” said Andy Soloman, the company’s founder & CEO.
New vendor enquiries continued their fourth consecutive week of growth, jumping 32.2%, or a further 15.67 points to 64.31, but still significantly down on the pre-COVID-19 average, and their high this year of 148.97 hit in mid- January.
Buyer enquiry recovery is even more encouraging, rising 24% or 17.34 points to 89.70, although still a long way off the 2020 high of 135.63 reached on 26 January.
Landlord enquiries finally showed signs of stirring, gaining 37.9% or 22.19 points to end at 80.67, but still way below this year’s high of 127.24 hit on 12 January.
For tenants, it’s a story of soaring demand, as tenancies come to an end and some tenants wish to downsize due to concerns over their ability to pay the rent. Enquiry levels rose another 14.5% or 16.95 points to 133.63, and are now at their highest level since 8 September last year.
“The message is unequivocal, now is not the time to keep your head down and wait for the crisis to pass. Customers are there and the best estate agents will be looking for ways to help people, build trust and relationships so that as restrictions ease they’ll be in prime position,” said Soloman.
“Weirdly, this crisis is emerging as a huge opportunity to review all working practices, learn from this challenging situation, plan for the future and seek ways to embrace digital to emerge stronger and fully aligned with changed customer demands,” he added.
How EYE carried the news of the Sentiment Tracker launch last week.