Despite the challenges posed to the industry by COVID, Zoopla has reported that the number of agent branches and new homes sites currently subscribed to the portal is up 2% year on year.

The annual growth follows a £30m investment that Zoopla made in the industry at the start of lockdown, waiving fees to agents for between five and nine months to help them weather the COVID storm.

As well as a boost in customer numbers, sales agreed on Zoopla rose 76% on the five-year average, leads delivered per agent branch rose 38% compared with pre-COVID, demand increased 34% in July 2020 compared to 12 months prior, and listings increased by 27% since the start of March.

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Time to sell has been reduced by almost two weeks, averaging just 27 days in the period since lockdown, compared to 39 days over the same period in 2019; time to rent is averaging 18 days, with rents up 1.1% year on year.

Andy Marshall (pictured), chief commercial officer at Zoopla, said: “Delivering tangible value and exceptional service to our agent and developer partners has always been our priority, and this is clearly resonating.

“Our growth in customer numbers is outperforming the broader market considerably, despite the 50 day market closure, and we hope this is testament to us doing the right thing by our customers.

“This increase is in marked contrast to one competitor which recently reported declines in agency branches of 3.5%.

“Our £30m investment in the agent and house builder communities back in March, which afforded five to nine months of free portal usage at a time when agents most needed our support, has strengthened our relationships and opened more doors to us than we could have anticipated.

“Now that the market is rebounding with a genuine underlying strength, free portal usage has helped agents to rebuild their business pipelines, without any costs payable to us.

“Our nine months of free portal usage is live until January and available to those keen to make Zoopla their primary portal.

“We are still welcoming new customers on board, and are able to extend free use of Zoopla until January to existing customers if they’d like to make us their primary portal partner.”