New buyers entering the residential property market grew again in the past week but sentiment overall fell as any feel-good residue from the budget faded and many people focussed instead on the welcome reopening of schools after months being closed, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.
In the week to midnight Sunday, new vendors contacting estate agents dropped almost 14%, landlords fell 13% and tenants 8%. Buyers held strong, growing more than 1% on the week to remain at levels not seen since last summer when the stamp duty holiday was first announced.
While the school run took priority for many, traffic to own-branded estate agent websites remained extremely strong at 50% higher than the same week last year just before lockdown was first imposed, while the proportion engaging in live chat to make initial enquiries was up 63% year/year, which in turn delivered 74% more leads. By way of comparison, these figures are also significantly higher than the same week two years ago, with website traffic 38% higher, live chat engagement 29% higher and leads from live chat 70% higher.
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 14 March 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.
YOMDEL PROPERTY SENTIMENT TRACKER (w/e 14 MARCH 2021)
“With schools finally reopening it is no surprise that volumes of new enquires dropped across the board, but these figures remain extremely strong. Of concern though is an apparent widening of the gap between buyers and sellers meaning it is more important than ever for agents to secure new instructions to help address a growing stock imbalance. There is also a widening demand jaw between sales and lettings,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder & CEO.
“But demand remains extraordinarily strong overall and the switch to digital is illustrated by the fact that the volumes of leads coming via live chat on agent websites are an astonishing 74% higher than last year and 70% higher than the same week 2019, a full year before coronavirus,” 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 down 13.58%, or 23.15 points, to end the week on 147.34, some 47% above the average, 59% higher than the same week last year when lockdown beckoned, and 35% above the equivalent week 2019..
Buyers grew slightly, rising 1.47%, or 2.65 points, to close at 183.18, 83% above the pre-covid-19 average, 90% above the same week 2020, 87% higher than the equivalent week 2019, and at their highest level since July last year.
Landlords fell back 12.50%, or 15.16 points, to 106.12, some 6% above the average, 25% higher than the same week last year, and steady on levels in the same week 2019.
Tenants fell 6.79%, or 8.38 points, to close at 115.12 some 15% above the pre-covid-19 average, 47% above the same week last year, and 34% higher than the equivalent week 2019..
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 – 14 March 2021 and shows how web traffic (blue line) is 50% 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 63% and 74%, respectively, above the same week 2020.
YOMDEL ESTATE AGENT WEBSITE TRACKER (w/e 14 MARCH 2021)