Is This The End Of The Road For Property Portal Dominance? What Comes Next?

Online property portals, dominated by a handful of websites, are by far the most popular home search method, which largely explains why estate agents spend so much money on maintaining an online presence that goes beyond simply listing properties on their own website, but that could be about to change.

New research by communications agency Oracle, in partnership with YouGov, finds that just 28% of 18-24 year-olds cite property portals, such as Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket, as the information source they most trust when looking for a home to rent or buy, in sharp contrast to 45% of 25-34 year-olds and 43% of 35-44 year-olds.

Oracle worked with YouGov to ask a representative sample of people what one source of information they trust most when looking for a home to buy or rent. The surprising drop-off in the 18-24 group favouring portals reflects a wider trend amongst Generation Z who tend to be wary of traditional advertising and product campaigns, instead preferring influencers, social proof and personal recommendations.

Oracle’s research bears this out as around one in six (16%) 18-24 year-olds surveyed were more likely to place their faith in other people’s reviews and recommendations via sources such as Trustpilot significantly more than those in the older age groups (10% 45-54s and 8% 55+). Additionally, just under a quarter – 23% – Generation Z potential home-movers would most trust a personal interaction with an estate agent or letting agent.

Just as the growing presence of web-savvy Millennials aided the rapid rise of property portals in the post-recession property market, Oracle and YouGov’s data indicates disruption may be on the way as Generation Z come of age as home-movers with far different patterns of buyer behaviour.

Caroline Coskry, chair of The Oracle Group, commented: “Websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla have been central to British house-hunting habits for around two decades now, but that dominance could soon be disrupted. Our research shows Generation Z place far less faith in portals than the generations that came before them, opening the door for new forms of property marketing to win their trust with tactics based around authenticity and social proof.”

The FMCG and fashion worlds have seen changes in recent years thanks to the emergence of platforms such as TikTok Marketplace and Depop which elevate Generation Z-friendly creator content, recommendations and influencer driven selling. Trends which may well signal the future direction of the property market as developers and agents look to capture the attention of younger buyers and renters.

Coskry added: “Understanding what sources of information people put their trust in is a vital part of how we support our property clients, and that’s exactly what we set out to discover in this research. We hope that by shining a light on this forward-looking trend, the industry can prepare itself for how to reach the next generation of buyers and renters. In recent years Oracle has achieved great results for clients with influencer-driven campaigns and we fully expect this trend to continue.”

All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,054 adults.

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