I have been on my regular review of our marketing and advertising in September, looking at our use of property portals, as well as our own website. We like to ensure our marketing spend is productive…

I recall being interviewed for television by the BBC, as one of the first agents in Leeds to advertise on the Internet. The interviewer asked whether estate agents would be out of business within 20 years, as people would be buying houses directly from the Internet. I made a prediction that we wouldn’t be out of business, but that the newspapers probably would. The advertising spend of estate agents in the 1970’s and 1980’s (along with car sales and job adverts) made the profits for the papers. Fast forward to 2021 and estate agents are still here, having switched our advertising spend to the Internet and property portals. Most of the newspapers have now gone ‘online’, although I believe many publications are struggling to survive.

Rightmove, Primelocation and Zoopla were the first true ‘property portals’ to emerge, followed by a number of smaller ones, Many of the smaller ones have now gone. Primelocation now appears to be London-centric portal. That leaves Rightmove and Zoopla as the main contenders, with the more recent addition of OnTheMarket.com. This portal is owned by estate agents, rather than institutional and speculative share investors. The marketing is very much focussed on properties, with no additional advertising and pop ups.

The portals gave estate agents a ‘window’ to a wider audience than the newspapers couldn’t offer.

Local advertising reached a narrow, parochial, audience and national newspaper advertising was expensive (£2,000 per page 20 years ago!). The portals, via the Internet, gave every agent, large and small, access not only to a regional market of buyers, but to both national and international buyers. It put the small one-man-band estate agency on the same platform as a 200+ national branded network.

Estate agents could not only reach a larger audience of buyers and tenants, but they could make their presence known to potential sellers and landlords. New business to an estate agent is vital. We’re always looking for that ‘next job’, to replace the most property we’ve sold or let.

The portals are geared towards attracting buyers and tenants. Great, I hear you say. But for agents in a buoyant market (as we’re in today) we don’t need help finding buyers and tenants. Our Rentals and Sales Teams have dozens of both, registered on our books waiting for new stock to come to market. We need more sellers and landlords to meet the current demand.

Moores continue to advertise on the portals, but we’re now seeing more and more buyers and tenants contact us directly through our website. We always list properties on our website before uploading them to the portals. Our “Coming Soon…” page is now producing viewing requests well ahead of the property portals.

In the past month the property portal, Rightmove, produced 146.2 property views per day. In the same period our website had 7,905 visitors (263.5 per day).

Our website is now more effective than Rightmove on that basis. Back in March the visitor numbers to our site were 5,725, showing an increase of 38% in 6 months.

Interestingly, in March 64.3% of visitors used mobile devices. This month 69.35% of visitors were on mobile devices, with 2,127 visitors coming from social media sites. Our use of social media is proving very effective.

I have to question how many people are now using the portals for genuine property hunting. Many seem to be searching the websites of local estate agents to find properties sooner. Are potential buyers and tenants, and sellers and landlords now simply using the portals for research? Are the majority of views on the portals from neighbours or people just ‘interested’ in property? I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the portals, which you use and why?

A Newsletter Editorial by Director Michael Moore FNAEA, MARLA. Sign up to our newsletter below.