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Since the COVID-19 induced lockdown began, we've tracked consumer sentiment or intent, 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, 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 last 15 months, followed by a Coronavirus crash. But 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 have also 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 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.
Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker – Enquiry levels remain high as estate agents scramble to meet demand
Vendor, buyer and landlord enquiries remain at record levels, with demand up to 64% above the average
30 JUNE, 2020. The residential property market slowed from a rapid boil to fast simmer in the past week as new enquiries from vendors and buyers dipped slightly but overall remained at record levels and more than 60% above the pre-covid-19 average, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) shows.
For the week ending midnight 28 June, new enquiry volumes from vendors and landlords dipped ever so slightly, to finish 62% and 64% above the average, respectively, while demand from landlords followed suit to also end the week at their highest point since before January 2019. Tenant demand also remained very strong at 43% above average levels, but for the first time dipped below its peak reached in mid-2019.
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 captured in live chat going back to January 2019, up until week ending 28 June 2020.
“Things have settled somewhat in the past week, and while the flow of new leads to estate agents via live chat has slowed a little, this is only really moving from a fast boil to rapid simmer. New opportunities are still flooding in, and listing and transaction data shows deals are being done, ” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder and CEO.
“We may be seeing the emergence of the latest “new normal” with elevated demand but this is no time for estate agents to pause for breath, they need to be urgently assisting home movers while they can. We’ve just seen another lockdown imposed in Leicester, so the advice has to be to do as much as possible as quickly as possible, but importantly, as safely as possible,” he added.
Estate agent website visitor volumes have slipped off the all-time record levels seen in the past two weeks but remain an astonishing 28% above the same week a year ago. Significantly, the proportion of people seeking support online via live chat is now 63% above the pre-covid-19 average. People have more questions than usual and have turned to the immediacy offered by live chat in higher numbers than ever before.
New vendor enquiries dipped slightly but remained 62% above the pre-covid-19 62-week average, ending the week a down 1.7%, or 2.81 points, to finish at 161.60.
Buyers followed suit, dropping 2.6%, or 4.39 points, to 164.30, but they remained an incredibly strong 64% above pre-covid-19 averages.
Landlords also cooled slightly but finished some 38% above the pre-covid-19 average dropping 1.16%, or 1.62 points, to finish at 137.53.
Demand from tenants has fallen strongest from a lockdown high of 150% above the average reached in mid-April, to settle at a still strong 43% above the pre-covid-19 average, down 7.65%, or 11.88 points, on the week at 143.37.
“UK estate agents remain incredibly busy and the market is buoyant. More and more home movers are now dipping not only their toes but their whole legs into pool, and agents tell us how motivated many of these people are,” said Soloman. “It is challenging, and many processes and activities have to be re-imagined, but demand is clearly there.”
Our additional analysis HERE, underlines further authority in the data, as it tracks chat and lead volumes against overall agent website visitors.
Understandably during lockdown, agents saw a dramatic fall in engagement levels, and even more so in transaction levels, but our data shows that from a sample of over 30 million website visits in the last 16 months, visitor levels are now back well ABOVE their previous average levels.
As we track Live Chat engagement week by week against these visitor levels we see an undeniable increase in usage levels as a proportion of visitors.
Simply put, more and more people are communicating and enquiring, from within their website visit, to achieve their needs.