Online estate agents may well be popping the champagne corks as recent analysis of sales platforms such as Rightmove and Zoopla by hybrid provider 99Home indicates that market share of new instructions has leaped by over 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 to 18 per cent; the highest ever market share for online agents.
But celebrations might be somewhat premature. For exchanges, our data reveals that the true market share for online agents stands at seven per cent.
While this represents a small increase quarter on quarter, it is still significantly down from the high of eight per cent in 2020.
Whilst stagnation will be a concern for brands such as Purplebricks, Yopa and Strike that currently command around three quarters of online activity; a greater worry will be the potential slowdown of the property market later this year.
With shrinking numbers of exchanges expected online agents are going to have to grow market share significantly just to stay still in terms of revenue – and with competition fierce for the high street; the focus will be on how to do this.
The key for online agents is in taking a forensic approach to the data and understanding the opportunities and analyzing which are most achievable and profitable.
Our most recent figures show that online brands currently have the highest penetration amongst homeowners selling houses that are valued at less than £ 200,000 at nine per cent.
There is a direct negative correlation between increase in house price and penetration of online agents.
In other words, as houses get more expensive the less likely the homeowner is to use an online agent. For homes valued at over £ 1m online agents have a less than one per cent market share.
The research shows that market share for online agents also differs significantly by location.
Home movers in Yorkshire and The Humber and The West Midlands feel more comfortable with using an online agent – a 12 per cent penetration, whilst people in the South of England are significantly less convinced, with market share dropping to just four per cent.
The market share of the online agents remains polarized to the lower value properties, a situation that remains unchanged from previous periods.
What is clear is the failure to be adopted by sellers of higher value properties will inhibit the ability of such agents to establish significant market share in London and the South East, where the property value and density of housing is greatest.
With limited resources and the inability to target all homemovers the data broadly shows that to navigate a shrinking market online agents have a choice to make – ‘stack’ em high and sell ’em cheap: lower value but higher volume or attract a more affluent customer : high value but lower volume.
To achieve this, online agents must use market insight strategically to create contextually targeted marketing programs that cut through by reaching consumers at the exact moment they need an estate agent – in this case homeowners that describe themselves as ‘wanting to move’, which currently accounts for 365,873 households, or 53 per cent of households currently in the homemoving journey.
And then ensuring that these individuals are reached through the most appropriate media channel for them.
The opportunity for online agents in undoubtedly there but the key will be to be far more direct and targeted with marketing budget, rather than relying solely on brand building activity.