Since before COVID-lockdown began, we've tracked consumer sentiment, based upon leads generated via Live Chat on property websites. We're only tracking enquiries with a transactional 'intent', ie. to sell, buy, let or rent - a clear indicator of customer desire to get on with business even under COVID-19 restrictions.
We took the average level of leads generated over the 62 weeks prior to lockdown on 23 March 2020, right back to 1 January 2019. That included a fairly dampened market, suffering from Brexit uncertainty, pre-election paralysis and then the Boris Bounce, so a good yardstick for difficult market conditions.
Our graph below, which is updated on a weekly basis, shows the pre-COVID-19 average at 100%, and clearly illustrates the market swings of the previous 15 months, followed by a Coronavirus crash.
Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker – Christmas market slowdown gathers pace, but activity remains unseasonably strong
Consumers pushing hard to hit stamp duty deadline, web visits at record levels
1 DECEMBER 2020. Ongoing coronavirus restrictions did little to dampen the UK property market in the past week, as new enquiry levels across vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants remained well above the same week last year, although volumes continued to fall in line with normal seasonal slowdowns, the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.
The impending easing of lockdown in England, optimism over coronavirus vaccines and mounting urgency over the stamp duty holiday deadline saw vendors end the week 26% higher than the same week 2019, landlords ended the period a staggering 45% higher, and buyers and tenants were 22% and 17% higher than last year, respectively.
Traffic to own-branded estate agent websites reflected the higher than seasonally normal activity to end the week 38% higher than the same period in 2019. The volumes of people engaging in live chat were 46% higher than the last week of November 2019, while the volume of new leads via live chat was 51% 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 29 November 2020. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 45 million unique website visits back to January 2019.
“Agents tell us that buyers are increasingly anxious over the 31st March completion deadline to benefit from the stamp duty holiday, and the reality is that with progression delays mounting, many people will now struggle,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder & CEO.
“This is why it is so important that the government extends the deadline to ensure the vibrant property sector can remain a beacon of economic hope when so much activity in the country has ground to a standstill. The last thing the sector – and the broader economy – needs is a string of fall throughs when the 2021 outlook remains so hard to read,” 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.
New vendors lost 8.77%, or 8.88 points, to end the week on 92.38, which left them 7% below the pre-covid-19 62-week average, but 26% above the same week in 2019.
Buyers dropped 15.09%, or 16.03 points, to close at 90.21, some 10% below the pre-covid-19 average but 22% above the same week last year.
Landlords fell 6.42%, or 6.50 points, to finish at 94.75, some 5% below the average but an incredible 45% higher than the same week in 2019.
Tenants slumped 20.08%, or 20.26 points, to close at 80.64, some 19% below the pre-covid-19 average but 17% 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 44 million visitors to estate agent websites from Jan 2019 – 29 November and shows how web traffic (blue line) is 38% 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 46% and 51%, respectively, above the same week 2019.
The big news has been the rebound in consumer sentiment which began very quickly, and seen through Live Chat usage on property websites indicates a huge change in customer online behaviour.
To support this evidence, we tracked a sample of 25 Yomdel property clients, and matched their Live Chat activity against their overall website visitors in the same periods, taken from Google Analytics. SEE THE FULL ANALYSIS HERE.
Consumer demand is now rebounding in website visits too, but the increase in Live Chat usage by customers is extraordinary, and a sign that new online behaviours are emerging as COVID-19 creates restrictions for consumers and businesses alike.