New Homes Index: Scrutinising summer

New Homes Index: July and August 2020

Traffic and conversions dipped in August; but bucked the seasonal trend from last year. August saw the first month on month decrease in the Index since May across all broad metrics:

  • Web sessions -11%
  • All web goal completions -6%
  • High intent (viewing request/ appointment) goals -10%

These changes were probably somewhat inevitable following the significant spike in interest following the government’s decision to reopen the sector in May. July actually saw around 13 times higher volume of ‘viewing’ type goals than in April, which was a full month of lockdown.

In 2019, August’s daily high intent goal average was about 9% less than in March. This year, it was only -6%. Interestingly, whilst the daily web session average dropped by 7% last year, it was 8% higher this year. This hints at the determination of developers to increase enquiry volumes using targeted media and tactics like remarketing , effectively ‘making hay while the sun shines’ during the summer months – against the backdrop of the increasing likelihood of further lockdown restrictions.

Using current daily averages, the forecast is that the full month of September will see a further decrease in these key areas, but not as sharply as seen from August to September last year.

New Homes Index – March to August:

Media mix

Comparing mid-March to mid-May with the corresponding period in July and August:

At an average of over 40% of all web traffic, the developer media mix continues to be dominated by PPC, comprised mainly from Google search and activity across the Display Network. Organic search activity (currently 15% of all traffic) has picked up an increased share of total traffic from PPC; we’d previously noted the slide in Google My Business listing interactions (which will be categorised as organic) during lockdown as the shutters went down on marketing suites.

Social had a slight dip in average share of traffic but retained a quarter of all sessions to developer websites.

Display, in the sense of alternative programmatic activity and sources outwith the GDN, is growing in share of traffic – almost doubling period on period – albeit at smaller volumes. The interest in hyperlocal mobile campaigns, precision targeted to commuters or specific locations, is gradually returning as audiences return to work.

Google performance

The chart below tracks indexed ‘real estate’ search volume over the last twelve months.

Search has gradually increased since the end of lockdown in mid-May and remained consistently high throughout the summer.

Google – search CPC and CTR

Whilst CPCs have started to gradually rise – as more competition returns to this channel – the last quarter has still performed slightly under pre-lockdown levels which were consistently >£0.50.

CTRs peaked in the six weeks post-lockdown but have continued to perform consistently above pre-lockdown levels since.

Paid social performance

The cost of Facebook impressions and clicks are now back to pre-lockdown levels, with activity into this channel matching the levels seen in quarter one. August saw a 12% MoM increase in CPC. The opportunity to acquire low cost traffic seen in April and May has now passed but, importantly, has not exceeded pre-lockdown levels.

The impact of any regional lockdowns and more localised economic factors will inevitably form future conversations on the health of the market around the UK. Our sights are firmly fixed on regionalising our New Homes Index output as well as bringing interactivity and more immediacy to the presentation of our findings, bolstered by an improved reporting and data warehousing infrastructure and the addition of new Data Analyst resource within our Insights team. We look forward to sharing the fruits of these developments in the coming months.