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Time to put Rightmove on a Diet

January 2019

Virtual tours, virtual reality, elevated photography, 3D floorplans, 4K drone fly-through video – you name it and you’ll find it online on major property portals. Sounds impressive, looks great on screen – what’s not to like?

Actually, there’s a lot not to like if you are a vendor trying to sell your home.

In previous articles where I’ve argued that too much property data is not king, I challenge the thinking of the property portals, how properties are currently marketed and why this isn’t a good thing if you are trying to sell. Just how much information should one put online?

Over the past five years, the plethora of marketing possibilities and the availability of a dizzying array of technological wizardry has really pushed the boundaries on the ways properties can be marketed. When an estate agent pitches their business to you, they will have all of these different options at their fingertips to entice you. It’s a sure-fire way to get a ‘wow’ when they show you a drone fly-through video – sweeping down through the clouds, across the garden and into the house in high-definition film is more Hollywood than Harrogate!

But, seller beware. There is a downside.

Ask yourself, if you are a buyer and are given all the information under the sun about a property online, what is your incentive to liaise with the estate agent? There isn’t one! By handing over the glossy videos, dozens of professional photographs, impressive floorplans and the like, buyers can remain anonymous surfing the web from the comfort of their armchair. Within seconds they’ll reach their own conclusion about a property (even if it’s the wrong one) without ever talking with the agent. And if a buyer has the wrong impression, how can the agent rectify this if they are anonymous?

It’s well known that estate agents receive much less footfall into their offices compared to 10 years ago and the market has been turned on its head during this time. Estate agents now need to work even harder to get buyers out of the woodwork and away from their computer screens. They need to engage more and across numerous different mediums.

Yes, Rightmove, On The Market and Zoopla all share these whizzy datasets with the estate agents to show how many hits your property has received and how many brochure downloads you’ve had. But who are these people looking at your home? The problem is that nobody (including the property portals themselves) know. So if you are getting 500 hits a week, but no viewings, how can you work out why? Are there any issues which potential buyers have raised? What do they really think about your home? This is also the Achilles heel of the online and some hybrid agents. By relying solely on website traffic, you are at the mercy of the portals.

Only by actually talking to buyers can estate agents fully engage and understand what a particular buyer is looking for and guide them in the right direction. By putting too much information about a property into the public domain, they lose the opportunity to speak with buyers and therefore you, the homeowner, will lose out.

My advice is ‘less is more’ and to keep some information back. By doing this you are incentivising buyers to pick up the phone or to go in and see the estate agent. By having this conversation with the agent, they will then understand what the market feels about your home and what can be done about it to make it sell for the best price.

Buyers’ appetite for data is never ending, but I suggest your 2019 New Year resolution should be to put them on a diet!