Over the past few years there’s been a massive shift in the housing market. Where once home buyers would go directly to their newspapers or local estate agents to find their dream home, many people now start their property search online (or on an app).
Online property portals have streamlined the process of contacting agents about properties for sale, and allow potential buyers to see literally thousands of homes that meet their criteria at the click of a button.
But which property portal is the best? If you’re selling your home, which portals should you absolutely make sure your property is advertised on?
In the UK a property portal is a website that advertises homes for sale or rent. These are a place for homesellers to show pictures and descriptions of their property to potential buyers. And, these sites are usually a potential property buyer’s first port of call when looking for a new home.
Many of the main online property portals now also have an app. This means people can access the portal on any device, and sellers can advertise their homes to buyers, wherever they are, and at any time of the day.
There are lots of UK property portals, but the main ones are: Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket.com. These three property portals are generally considered to be the main competitors for the title of ‘Best Property Portal’.
Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket all offer an easy-to-use platform for homesellers to advertise their properties to prospective home buyers. They also all have highly-rated apps.
But what makes them different from each other, and why might an estate agent use one rather than the other?
Each of these property portals have their own benefits, and offer something uniquely useful for home sellers and buyers.
Started in 2000, Rightmove is dubbed the UK’s largest online property marketplace. According to their website, there are on average 141 million visitors to Rightmove’s website each month. They also claim to have over a million properties for sale or rent advertised on the Rightmove website and app at any time.
Prospective buyers are able to sort properties in various ways, including by price and keyword (so make sure you have a good property description!). And, they’re able to see which schools are nearby.
Zoopla is apparently the UK’s ‘best known portal’. Like Rightmove, they also have over a million properties advertised on their website and app.
Zoopla attracts about half as many monthly visitors as Rightmove - about 55 million a month - and according to their website, the Zoopla app has been downloaded over 11 million times.
But, Zoopla’s point of difference is its use of data. Buyers can search for properties by commute times, or draw a boundary on a map of the area they’d like to live. Zoopla also offers a wide range of guides, advice, and news for home buyers.
OnTheMarket describes itself as the UK’s ‘most user friendly portal’, and they aim to offer ‘an exceptional property search service’. As the youngest of the three (15 years younger than Rightmove), they tend to feature fewer properties for sale on their website, but the number is steadily growing.
Their key selling point for buyers is that they feature properties up to 24 hours before Rightmove and Zoopla. So, the buyers that use OnTheMarket know they’re getting the first look at the new properties coming to the market.
There’s no definitive answer to which portal will get you the best results when selling your home. Because they all offer something slightly different, it’s best to make sure your property is listed on more than just one property portal. This will make sure that you get seen by as many potential buyers as possible.
However, an important thing to remember is that the number of people who visit a property website or an app doesn’t mean everything. Although over a hundred million people take a look at Rightmove each month, only a very small percentage of these people actually go on to look round these houses.
This is because many people look at property portals aspirationally. It’s fun to check out what sort of houses you could live in in a few years, or if you won the lottery.
The people you want to capture the interest of are those with ‘high intention’ - those who are ready to put in an offer as soon as they see a property they like. Getting your property in front of as many people as possible does increase your chances of being seen by a motivated buyer.
But, if your photos and property descriptions aren’t up to scratch, your property will quickly get lost in those high traffic portals. Your home will be competing with thousands of others in your area for the attention of buyers.
Before you decide which estate agent to work with, it’s worth talking to them about which portals, and how many they usually list properties on. Make sure they have an option to get your home professionally photographed, and that they have an experienced property description writer ready to describe your home beautifully.
A good estate agent should be able to give you specific information about how successful each portal has been for attracting buyers in your area in the past. They'll also be able to tell you what they do differently to other estate agents to make homes stand out.
Remember to also ask how they advertise properties beyond property portals too. Do they have a strong social media presence? Are they well connected with buyers and investors in your local area? Do they have more traditional methods of advertising to attract older buyers? All of these forms of advertising will work together to give your property the maximum possible exposure to interested buyers.
If you’re not sure which estate agent to work with, we recommend chatting to at least three. This is your chance to ask questions about what they offer, and their experience selling homes like yours. To narrow down the best local agents near you, check out our nifty comparison tool.
No. It’s the policy of Zoopla, Rightmove, and OnTheMarket, that you may only post properties on their websites if you are an estate agent.
This is for two reasons. The first is to prevent scams and fraud, from both buyers and sellers. For example people posting adverts for properties that they don’t actually own, or people posing as buyers in order to steal from homeowners. Estate agents are legally obligated to do legal checks when taking on an instruction, and when fielding interest from potential buyers. By only allowing estate agents to post the main property portals ensure that all listings are legitimate.
The second is that property portals use estate agent subscription fees to make money. An estate agent branch will sign up to a portal in the same way you might sign up to a streaming service. They will pay a monthly fee and can list as many properties as they like on the platform.
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