Strong demand kicks off New Year as new national lockdown begins

Post-Christmas new enquiries to estate agents surged when compared to the last full business week before Christmas as people finished digesting seasonal excesses and turned their minds to the future once more and resumed their hunt for agents to help them move or manage properties, the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.

Vendors were up 63% on the last full week before Christmas (w/e 22 Dec), while buyers leapt 73%, landlords 19% and tenants 40% to indicate continued exceptional demand in the market despite the record activity in the second half of 2020 during the coronavirus crisis, the data for the week ending midnight 3 January showed.

But with coronavirus multiplying rapidly across the UK, the numbers come with a note of caution as more lockdown restrictions are imposed in the short term and the tight deadline of 31 March for people to benefit from the government stamp duty holiday is looking increasingly unachievable.

With people unwilling or unable to have face-to-face meetings with agents, the shift online shows every sign of accelerating further when it comes to property transactions. The number of visitors to own-branded estate agent websites was 8% up on the same week last year, while the number of people engaging in real-time live chat online was 14% higher, and the number of leads being generated some 31% 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 20 December 2020. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 47 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder and CEO, said: 

“This is a tough market to call, but the strength of new enquiries between Christmas and New Year is incredible. In the week between Christmas and New Year, a time when many agents simply shut, we have seen people chomping at the bit to get moving, and around 60% of those enquiries also came outside of standard business hours.

“With tighter Covid restrictions on the cards, the digital presence for estate agents is absolutely key for building relationships with prospective and existing customers. As we saw in the first lockdown last March and April, those agents offering digital channels such as live chat and virtual viewings will be best placed in this next phase of the disaster that coronavirus is,” he added.

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