Paying customers are up by 2% on UK number 2 portal Zoopla as the company reaps the rewards of the aggressive tactics it began in March. The scheme, under which agents get free use of the portal for a time in exchange for signing long term deals and in some cases dropping Rightmove, has reportedly cost Zoopla £30 million but has done the job of increasing its paying agent numbers to a combined total of 16,545 which represents an increase of 2% year on year. The portal is reportedly set to repeat the offer of free listings until January for those agents willing to commit to a long term contract to consolidate the gains made.
Although Rightmove is sitting pretty on a total of 19,158 paying customers (agents and new homes), the market leader reported agent losses of 3.3% year on year in its H1 results at the beginning of August and may be worried by the figures released by its main rival today. Zoopla Chief Commercial Officer Andy Marshall was keen to hammer home the gains made on Rightmove, saying in a statement:
“Our growth in customer numbers is outperforming the broader market considerably, despite the 50 day market closure, and we hope this is testament to us doing the right thing by our customers. This increase is in marked contrast to one competitor which recently reported declines in agency branches of 3.5%.”
Aside from just an increase in the number of paying customers, Zoopla has also reported that it has significantly improved the percentage of customers on long term contracts (defined as 12 months or longer) as a result of its policy from 23% at the start of the year to 84% now. Marshall and the Zoopla leadership will be very pleased with the results of the policy and will be hoping that their largesse currys favour with agents going into what may well be a difficult period for many despite a stronger than expected market rebound:
“Our £30m investment in the agent and house builder communities back in March, which afforded five to nine months of free portal usage at a time when agents most needed our support, has strengthened our relationships and opened more doors to us than we could have anticipated. Now that the market is rebounding with a genuine underlying strength, free portal usage has helped agents to rebuild their business pipelines, without any costs payable to us.”
Zoopla also took advantage of today’s press release to announce some numbers around leads and the strength of the UK housing market in general. Time to sell has reduced by almost 2 weeks since the end of lockdown and now stands at 27 days, with time to rent at 18 days. Listing numbers are up 27% since the start of March and demand is up by 34% compared to a year ago. Perhaps most importantly for Zoopla, the leads it is sending its agents per branch are up by 38% since pre-Covid.