What buyers want: how customer expectations are changing the property search


As how we access services has changed, so have our expectations. Here’s what homebuyers are really looking for when starting out on the process of buying their dream home.

In today’s on-demand economy, customers can get whatever they want with the click of a button. Mobile devices, apps and always-on connectivity have provided us with unfettered access to information, services and goods.

But research cited by the UK government has highlighted that more than 60% of buyers and vendors have experienced unexpected delays when buying their home. What should be an exciting life event can often leave those involved feeling stressed and worried.

According to the HomeOwners Alliance, the total time from new property listing to completion of sale is around six months. But compare this to Norway, where this time is reported to be around 47 days, and it becomes clear that the process could be faster and more in line with consumer expectations.

Here’s how homeowner expectations are changing the buying process.


With 57% of estate agents’ leads generated outside of traditional working hours (including more than a quarter made at the weekend), it’s clear homeowners want the accessibility and convenience to browse for properties when it suits them.

They want listings to be detailed and up to date, with 360° videos and virtual tours that make it easy to weed out unsuitable properties before they take the time to visit in person.

They want out of hours support (even if that’s provided by a chatbot) to answer simple questions or concerns. And they want to be able to register their interest in a listing, with an automatic follow up once an agent is back at their desk.

Homebuyers also want to avoid having to provide the same information to various different stakeholders during their search for a new place to call home. Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Thirdfort showed that 22% of UK homebuyers found providing conveyancers the same information they have provided to an estate agent or broker as the most annoying part of the process.


study by Purple Bricks found half of homeowners feel the process is overly complicated, and 49% dislike not knowing what’s going on and having to chase constantly for updates. A whopping 71% would love to see live updates to see how far along their sale is.

Though there are factors outside of an agent’s control when it comes to the speed of a house sale, embracing automation and technological tools that can streamline manual processes and offer such insights will be beneficial to the customer experience. And e-signature services such as Docusign and remote identity checks with the Thirdfort app, for example, will help simplify and accelerate the administrative side of the transaction.


Almost everyone (93%) looking for a new home initially searches online. An agent’s website is their new shop window and it needs to be easy to navigate, informative and mobile friendly so users can browse on any device they please.

But homeowners are also using social media, Whatsapp and searching sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla – two thirds of Brits say they spent time on those apps during the pandemic just for fun. Having an omnichannel approach provides potential customers with flexibility so that they can interact with agents however they choose.

Seamless experience

Even though homeowners will be frequently engaging with agents across a multitude of channels, they still expect an efficient, seamless experience. Modern customers are more informed, independent and feel more able to switch to another provider if the process doesn’t live up to their experience. Agents (and their colleagues) need to be aligned with systems and processes in place to keep everyone informed. Some are also providing all-in-one packages, catering to homebuyers looking for that one-stop-shop service, with mortgages and conveyancing, to removals and utilities all available.

Personalised service

In the digital age, a one-size-fits-all approach no longer resonates with homeowners. Buying a property is one of the biggest investments people will ever make but it’s also one of the most stressful life experiences. One poll by Yopa ranked the stress of moving house above getting a divorce, having a baby or starting a new job. So while technology can help agents provide a more efficient service, it’s also about the human touch.

Agents that can offer true local expertise, combined with the flexibility to think on their feet, will be best placed to nurture fruitful customer relationships and boost satisfaction.

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