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Whether you’re selling your property or buying a new one, using an online property portal can be a great way to speed up the process - almost 95% of property searches begin on a portal. Instead of checking the local papers or high street estate agents, buyers can browse online and increase the amount of interest a property receives.
Rightmove and Zoopla are the most popular property portals, with newcomer OnTheMarket increasing competition. It's important to know which portal your estate agent will be using when marketing your property so that you can research the benefits each one offers.
With our expert reviewers providing accurate advice and information, Compare My Move creates insightful guides to ensure you’re fully prepared for the selling process and everything it entails. In this article, we will discuss the two most popular property portals, Rightmove and Zoopla, and the key tools they offer to aid you in the process.
A previous survey carried out by the property valuation website, Property Price Advice, discovered that 94.8% of people use online property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla when house-hunting. This is an incredibly large proportion of buyers, helping increase interest. However, you may be wondering what exactly these popular online portals are.
Rightmove is the oldest property portal, created in 2000 by the largest corporate estate agencies at the time; this experience and expertise has amassed a large audience over the years.
Their business enables all estate agents who pay a fee to advertise their properties, ensuring a much larger audience than if the agent remained local and relied on just local press advertisements and promoting properties in their own branch windows.
On average, Rightmove receives 127.5 million visits per month. However, in January 2020, they broke this record by surpassing 150 million visits for the first time ever. This is a 7% increase compared to January of the previous year. The number of time users spent on their website also increased, reaching 1.17 billion minutes.
The overwhelming majority of agents are customers of Rightmove: for the consumer, here are a few of Rightmove's key features:
Rightmove’s ‘keyword sort’ can personalise your property search by prioritising certain words and phrases. If someone is looking for homes with a ‘garage’ or ‘utility room’, they can enter the phrase into the search bar to ensure the properties listed higher on the results page meet their exact requirements.
Rightmove also allows estate agents to upload the floor-plan of the property they’re trying to sell. A floor-plan is an important visual tool that can help buyers visualise the home before even stepping foot into the physical building. Buyers often want to know dimensions and this is a useful way to accurately represent your property online.
The ‘draw a search’ feature allows users to draw directly onto the virtual map to outline a preferred area. You can focus your search on a variety of other factors like street names, schools, pubs and more.
This is a very visual tool that helps prospective buyers find the best properties in the area they prefer. If you set up a free-to-create account, you can save the outline you drew on the map to visit it again at a later date.
‘Where can I live’ is a tool that helps users find an area that will match their budget and personal preferences. It helps potential buyers with a Rightmove account view homes that are close to work, school and other important areas.
Sign in, state what places you need to be near, what your budget is and add your property criteria and you’ll be shown the most suitable homes. This then helps buyers work out accurate commuter times depending on the area they’re looking in.
Now that a user has found a property within their preferred area, they will likely want to use the ‘school checker’ tool if they’re moving with a family. This feature allows users to see if the home is within the vicinity of one or more good schools. It provides useful information such as Ofsted reports and admission criteria to help the buyer make a more informed decision.
‘Rightmove Market Trends’ provides users with current information on what is happening in the property market in their local area. It uses the UK's largest set of property information to help users understand the market activity in their area and how it’s changed over time.
Finally, the ‘view notes’ tool allows users to add notes to any property they’ve viewed so that they can keep them listed on their personal account. This then makes it easier for them to view them again when needed.
Another popular online property portal and Rightmove’s biggest competitor is Zoopla; almost as many agents are customers of Zoopla, but Rightmove continues to be the largest. Founded in 2007, Zoopla has garnered much support.
Zoopla also operates as a property and comparison search website and does not rely solely on estate agents for revenue, unlike Rightmove. It also owns other websites like uSwitch, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.
Zoopla has some 60 million visits a month - not as high as Rightmove, but it is still an extremely large audience for sellers to utilise, with 11.2 million users downloading the app in 2018.
Don’t forget to try the tools that Zoopla and Rightmove offer. It’s a good way to gauge how user-friendly the website is and what users will likely gravitate towards.
Here are some of Zoopla’s key features:
By entering a postcode, city, town or street name, users can work out the average asking price and rent in a particular area. This tool gathers all the data from properties currently on the market on Zoopla and works out an average for that area.
It breaks down the properties into categories for those looking for specific types such as semi-detached or terraced homes. It’s also useful for families as you can enter a school name and discover the average asking price for the school’s local area.
The ‘smart map’ is an interactive tool where users can isolate single streets, groups of streets or a general area. By choosing the 'draw from scratch’ option, you can mark out your preferred area much like the Rightmove ‘draw a search’.
Zoopla’s ‘travel time’ search tool helps buyers find a prospective home within any given journey time in the area of your choice. From schools to offices, you can easily work out the time it takes to commute.
If a user isn’t sure which area would be most suited to them and their budget, they can use the ‘heat-map tool’ which will highlight the most expensive areas of a town, village or city in red. The cheapest areas will be in blue. It’s a very insightful, visual tool that can help buyers narrow down an area to start their house-hunting process.
One way to filter your search results on Zoopla is to search for the homes with the highest reduction rates. This will then also provide you with a reduction history of the property you choose to view - a key indicator that the property may have been on the market a long time, with a seller who may now be willing to accept a lower offer.
You can also use their ‘advanced search’ tool to target specific requirements such as ‘garages’, ‘garden’ or ‘double garage’. It’s similar to Rightmove’s ‘keyword sort’ and will provide a more personalised result.
Built into every listing, Zoopla’s Running Costs Calculator works out an estimate for the monthly bills you would have to pay. It includes estimates for your mortgage, energy, water and council tax so you can budget the total cost of buying a house.
This tool is particularly useful for sellers. Some people are not immediately open to selling their home and would prefer to advertise their home as ‘open to offers’. If you ‘claim’ a property you’re admitting to ownership and can edit the details to your personal preferences.
You can then use the ‘tempt me’ tool which will set a price that you would personally consider accepting to increase interest on the property and to ease you into the selling process.
This tool allows users to specifically locate new-build houses. It filters the properties by development so they’re much easier to sort through.
Both Zoopla and Rightmove are high-quality portals; the majority of UK estate agents are on both.
Both portals have an app you can download for convenience. Browse through each website and play around with the key features to determine which you would prefer working with. Try to think like a buyer to also determine how easy it would be for potential users to view your property and its information.
Many users seem to prefer the tools offered by Zoopla as they allow you to get an instant valuation of your property and seem easy to use. Zoopla also lets you define your search area by drawing on the map. The travel time tool lets buyers see how far the property will be from important areas like their work and local amenities. This may encourage more buyers to view your home.
It’s also important to think about traffic and which portal can increase the number of people viewing your property. Rightmove is typically the best for traffic with around 127.5 million visits per month. This is significantly higher than Zoopla’s average of 60 million.
Rightmove also has the most properties listed on the website, with the company at 1.1 million properties in early 2020 - at the same time, Zoopla, had around 925,000.
Both property portals are worthy competitors and using an agent listing on one or both greatly increases the chances of your property being sold.
There are smaller portals too.
Of these, the most prominent is OnTheMarket; around 75% of agents advertise here, but this number may reduce as heavily-discounted deals tempted agents to join and some are not renewing when they pay full tariff.
OnTheMarket was launched in 2015. Some properties may be advertised on this portal 24-hours before they appear on Rightmove or Zoopla, but OnTheMarket's much lower marketing budget means consumer awareness is far lower than for the 'Big Two'. OnTheMarket is still a new and growing company and so its reach may not be as far as it’s well-known competitors.
It should be noted that online property portals are not online estate agents. They are simply a means for prospective buyers to view properties and contact the corresponding agent.
Estate agents can be found either online or on the high street. They will list properties onto property portals to help increase the number of potential buyers viewing them. The portal’s users can then contact the estate agent marketing the property they like via the link on the property page.
Whilst some estate agents will only list properties they are marketing onto their own websites, property portals will include properties from a range of agents. Don't forget to discuss costs with your estate agent to factor in the final price when calculating the cost of selling your home.
When selling your home, it’s important to find the right professionals for the job. Whether that’s deciding which online portal to use or which local removal company can best help you move. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare quotes to ensure you save both time and money during the selling process.
If you’re looking for a reliable service to help you compare quotes in advance, then Compare My Move is the place to be! From conveyancers to property surveyors, we have a strong network of verified professionals to help you move house with ease.