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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 – Enquiries from home movers remain strong as people seek digital solutions
Customers seeking support and services online more than ever
Post-lockdown demand from home movers, especially vendors, remained exceptionally strong in the past week as visitor volumes to estate agent websites broke through pre-COVID-19 levels and people sought immediate support online in greater numbers than ever before, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) shows.
For the week ending midnight 31 May, new enquiries from vendors seeking valuations remained at record levels as people looked to kickstart stalled plans to move home. Buyer interest stabilised at dizzying levels 100% above pre-lockdown averages, while there was a slight cooling in the rental market from landlords and tenants as earlier pent up demand is now being supported and resolved, Yomdel, the leading provider of live chat for estate agents said.
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 31 May 2020.
“We’re seeing this pattern of enormous demand not just from Yomdel, but also from Rightmove with record visitor numbers, and the leading CRM Reapit recording estate agent office activity. Data providers are also reporting transaction figures are rapidly rising meaning sentiment and actions are now moving more freely in synch,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder and CEO.
“Importantly, this is happening online as clients tell us they are not seeing many visitors to their reopened offices. Web traffic to agent websites has recovered and is now above average levels, while the volumes of people using live chat and requesting digital services are off the scale, we’ve never seen anything like this,” 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 vendor enquiries remained at record levels, nudging up 1.03%, or 1.4% points, to 137.28, equivalent to 37% above the pre-covidid-19 average to signal more and more people think its time to brave the market.
Buyers remained almost flat at their all-time-time record levels, dipping 0.78%, or 1.64 points, to 209.11, with demand now 109% above pre-covid-19 averages.
Landlords lost ground on the week, falling back 13.44%, or 19.50 points, to finish at 125.61, still 26% above the pre-covid-19 average.
Demand from tenants remain exceptionally strong, but cooled 10.77%, or 24.94 points, to finish at 206.67, still almost 107% above the pre-covid-19 average.
“We’ve been tracking this data now for eight weeks and the trends are clear. People are geared up to move, they are requesting online engagement channels such as live chat in numbers never previously seen, and they want digital solutions including video viewings and valuations,” said Soloman.
“People are savvy, and while estate agents are grappling with a changed market and challenging working practices, their customers are clearly signalling what they expect. All estate agents should look closely at how they can quickly take advantage otherwise they risk missing out,” he added.
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 nearly 30 million website visits in the last 16 months, visitor levels are now back 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.
You may be interested to know how Yomdel has been helping businesses adapt to these 'new normals' - click below to read more: