Strong increases in new business enquiries to estate agents continued across the board in the past week as consumers rushed to agent websites to try and arrange house sales and home moves, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) shows.
For the week ending midnight on 26 April, significant growth was seen in new enquiries 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.
Yomdel provides 24/7 managed live chat services to 3,800 estate agent offices in the UK, handling more than a million chats per year. It has analysed the data going back to January 2019, up until week ending 26 April 2020.
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. The past week saw 46.1% of all chats occur outside standard business hours.
YOMDEL PROPERTY SENTIMENT TRACKER (w/e 26th April 2020)
The lockdown was imposed on 23 March in a bid to stem the spread of the killer virus, but as a consequence much economic activity, including estate agents, ground to a near standstill. 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 have boomed.
“At this difficult time, it’s really heartening that more and more people are looking for ways to be able to sell or let properties or move home. And with estate agent offices closed it is technology, and in particular live chat, which is enabling this behaviour,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder & CEO.
“Of course, while the sentiment is clearly that people want to get on with things, the real challenge is that under the continuing coronavirus lockdown it is simply not yet possible to do many things. But people clearly want to start planning for when restrictions begin to be lifted,” he added.
New vendor enquiries continued to recover for the fifth consecutive week, up 16%, or 10.29 points to 74.60, still more than 25% down pre-COVID-19 average, but up 115% from the low hit during the first week of lockdown ending 30 March.
Buyers have stormed back into the market to rise above the pre-COVID-19 average and finish the week at 104.91 points. This was up 16.96% on the previous week, rising 15.21 points, but still some way off the 2020 high of 135.63 reached on 26 January.
Landlord enquiries continued their recovery, gaining a further 12.08% or 9.75 points, to end at 90.42, and making up ground towards this year’s high of 127.24 reached on 12 January.
Soaring demand from tenants remains unchecked, with enquiries soaring a further 17.35% to 156.81 points from 133.63 last week. This places tenant demand at an all-time high their highest level reached on the YPST, and an incredible 182% up on their lockdown low.
“These are incredible figures, and while transaction volumes remain depressingly low, the smart money would now be on planning for the next phase. Tenants are doing deals now, and customers need support. Those agents offering support will be those that win the new business,” said Soloman.
“Don’t be a shrinking violet, get out there, virtually of course. Agents are already doing business and the best will be evaluating how they can up their digital presence to be more in synch with changed customer behaviour,” he added.