Research suggests that around 95 out of 100 home buyers live locally. If you want to sell your home, effective local marketing is what delivers results.
Research from Registers of Scotland
You may not have heard of Christopher Muir, in fact he is hard to track down, even using Google, but if you have any interest in selling your home or in advertising property for sale, his research is revealing and relevant.
You see, Chris Muir is a GIS (Geographical Information Systems) Analyst at the Registers of Scotland – the organisation that records every property transaction in Scotland. A little while ago, he wrote a paper titled: ‘Redefining Housing Market Areas in Scotland’ and it is very much more interesting than its title might suggest – at least to someone whose job it is to advertise homes for sale.
The aim of the paper was to see if the traditional assumption that housing markets are geographical areas – the ‘Glasgow’ or ‘Edinburgh’ property markets, for example – was right. Mr Muir decided to find out by looking not at geographical boundaries but (this is a huge simplification) at where people who bought a property had lived before or where people who sold property moved to.
Most buyers live locally
The results confirm something that property professionals have known (or at least suspected) for a very long time. The evidence shows, unequivocally, that the overwhelming majority of people buying a property in a given area already live in and around that area.
What do I mean by overwhelming majority? Well, Mr Muir’s analysis shows that 90 per cent of all Scots buying in Glasgow live within less than 40 miles of their destination. And Glasgow is by far the most ‘cosmopolitan’ city in Scotland. In other cities the majority of buyers live much closer to the home they buy. In Edinburgh, for example, 90 per cent of these buyers live within 24 miles of the property they purchase.
Now Chris Muir is an honest man (and a statistician), so he points out that his research uses data from 2008 and does not include every transaction, but there is no suggestion that things have changed significantly between 2008 and today.
He also points out that his analysis only includes transactions where the purchaser already lived in Scotland. So, are there hordes of buyers from outside Scotland that might give us a different view of where buyers come from if their movements were included? Err, no.
Where buyers come from
A quick look at data from the Registers of Scotland that includes the origin of the buyer wherever they came from shows that sales to people outside Scotland are remarkably low. Let me illustrate. In 2010, there were 18,227 sales of residential property in all ‘G’ postcodes. Of those, just 94 were bought by people from London. The next most important town in England in terms of purchases in the G postcode that year was Blackpool with seven acquisitions, followed by Belfast(6), Manchester(6) and Birmingham(4). Out of over 18,000 sales, these are tiny figures.
So, the overwhelming majority of buyers, it seems, really are local.
The implications for marketing property
When you think about it, this has important implications for property marketing. If you are selling, or thinking of selling, your home the overwhelming probability is that the buyer of your home lives locally. That means, of course, that the chances of your buyer currently living elsewhere in the UK (let alone overseas) are correspondingly slim.
Apply that to advertising your home for sale and it’s easy to see that the main emphasis of any advertising you do should be local, or at least regional. Given the relative scarcity of buyers from further afield, a well sited For Sale board is probably of more value in marketing terms than ‘national’ advertising to a UK audience. All those millions of visitors to property portals? The chances are that, if they don’t already live in your area, they are probably not interested in your home.
So, the next time you think about selling your home, remember; it should pay dividends to think local. By the way, if you would like a copy of Christopher Muir’s research, let me know.