Lockdown’s effect on vendor behaviour

COVID-19 has affected the housing market in some relatively unexpected ways.

Chief among these is that it’s spurred many homeowners to rethink their living situation entirely. Many have never wanted to sell more, at a time when it’s in theory the least possible.

And, there’s evidence this is translating into action. We saw an 88%* spike in demand on the Zoopla website the week after the thawing of the property lockdown in England on 13 May.

So, with vendors’ desire to move now unleashed, how is the pandemic affecting how they start their property journey?

Online fact-finding

Remote market appraisals may be a necessity throughout the pandemic, but our observations suggest that they aren’t going away any time soon.

This matches behaviour that’s the norm in other areas of our lives. An exclusively online fact-finding journey predates the purchase of many major physical products and experiences, such as holidays or cars.

AdReach Express analysis

On the back of this, our AdReach Express team made a change to its customer journey at the end of March.

AdReach Express is a self-service tool letting agents target highly-engaged audiences on Facebook and Instagram.

The goal of the change was to provide softer call-to-action opens, enabling agents to capture demand even when face-to-face market appraisals weren’t possible.

Updating the customer journey

The original AdReach Express customer journey allowed consumers to submit their details to an agent with a view to arranging a home visit. The update gave a choice of three options, each adhering to social distancing

  • Request an online valuation from an agent
  • Request a video call with an agent
  • Book a date in the future (available from next month onwards)

AdReach Express also updated copy on adverts, to drive up awareness among consumers that contact-free options were available to them.

The results

While our AdReach Express team had anticipated that requests for online valuations would be high, the extent of preference for this option – at 98.33% – massively exceeded expectations.

In turn, we saw a 58% increase in conversion rates (conversions defined as ‘registrations with agents via AdReach Express’) in the week to 27 May, compared to pre-lockdown levels.

Better remote market appraisals

With all the evidence pointing to ongoing growth of virtual valuations, it will be increasingly important for agents to make theirs stand out to drive conversions.

Using ZooplaPro tools such as Property Valuation Reports and Comparables reports help build trust and rapport during virtual market appraisals. They act as a quick way for the agent to illustrate their in-depth knowledge of their patch.

And the tools are growing in popularity. Property Valuation Reports (PVR) usage among Zoopla customers rose 90.5% month-on-month between April and May, after a decline during the early lockdown period between March and April.

Our recent Skills Session looked at how agents can make the best use of PVRs and Comparables reports to make their virtual market appraisals stickier than competitors.

In summary

Given the option, consumers have a huge preference for virtual valuations – whether in lockdown or not.

To capitalise on vendors hungry to sell after lockdown, agents should prioritise on incorporating virtual valuation tech into the upper funnel of their sales journeys.

Having gone through the virtual valuation stage, the most-likely-to-convert will then come to the surface to begin a physical sales journey.

 

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