British real estate vertical Zoopla has reached a three-year high in agent branch numbers, with over 1,000 new branches added since the first Covid-19 lockdown in the U.K. in March, according to its data published on Dec. 7.

The portal reports total branch and new home sites have reached 18,000, its highest number since 2017. It does not reveal the split between the number of agents and new homes developments that have increased since March.

Zoopla invested around £30 million ($40 million U.S.) in supporting its agents through Covid-19 and targeting new agents by offering five months free, with qualifying agents automatically switched to the offer.

In June, Zoopla said this resulted in 400 new branches joining. On Sep. 2, Zoopla reported the number of agent branches and new home developments increased 2% to 16,545. In September Zoopla extended the offer, giving agents free listings until January if they committed to a 12-month contract and make Zoopla their “primary portal.”

U.K. Real Estate portal customer numbers

Source: AIM Group 2020 Real Estate Marketplaces Annual. Data source: Company accounts and reports, AIM Group estimates. Nearest FY to CY.

On the face of it, Zoopla seems to have added a massive 1,500 agents plus new home sites in the three months since it last released data in September. On trend, this substantially closes the gap with Rightmove (which last released data for June).

However, we are cautious about Zoopla’s data. We’ve asked Zoopla for a consistent historic time series and for explanations of certain movements in the data over time. Zoopla has declined to provide a set of data that we can be sure has been reported on the same basis over time or to answer our questions on the data it has provided.

In its data release this week, Zoopla said the sales pipeline is now 50% larger than during the corresponding period last year. Agents are experiencing the busiest property market seen in the run up to Christmas for over 10 years, supported by the stamp duty holiday on properties valued below £500,000 until the end of March 2021. The portal anticipates 100,000 sales to spill over into Q121

“Agents are driven by results and our track record of delivering improvements in product and technology, combined with our record investments in marketing and customer service are paying dividends, driving better, higher quality leads,” said Andy Marshall, Zoopla’s chief commercial officer.

In recent months Zoopla has invested in new services, including a partnership with Pinterest that lets AdReach users reach home movers with targeted and local campaigns. In October, Zoopla partnered FocalAgent to offer free virtual viewings to some agents.

In September, Zoopla appointed Jo Wickremasinghe as product director and four other senior appointments to its products and technology teams.



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