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Housebuilders - Are Property Portals Draining Your Marketing Budget?

Do you have property portal fatigue? Do you feel trapped in their lengthy contracts? Are you tired of losing a large chunk of your marketing budget to them?

Look, property portals are fantastic, no doubt. They have long been the primary focus for housebuilders to market their developments. And why wouldn’t they be? If someone’s looking to move, they will likely scroll on a portal or two. However, housebuilders have become too dependent on these portals, and the portals know it. That’s why they can charge whatever they like. (And it seems like the price differs wildly from housebuilder to housebuilder.) If you want your development on there and you want it to have a prime spot, the fact is, you have to pay a pretty penny. Then there are those drawn-out contracts you’re shackled to… when you lay it out bare, it doesn’t make for an enticing marketing solution, does it?

In this blog, we’re going to explain why property portals are not the only option. If you’re looking to make efficiencies in 2024, we can help!


The problem with property portals 

Limited reach

Property portals target anyone and everyone looking at their site. This may not align with the demographics you want to target, leading to wasted resources and ineffective advertising. There are also a lot of people just scrolling these sites as a hobby – either dreaming about what it would be like to buy a £4 million house or seeing how others live. They have no intention of actually moving! We’ve all done it. And if you haven’t, you know someone who does! The truth is that not everyone looking on a property portal is serious about moving.  

TwentyCi solution: 

We can reach a wider audience than the property portals with our home builder marketing. We track 99.6% of the property market so we know exactly who has listed their home for sale and will be interested in finding a new home. We also have a Likely to Instruct AI tool that can predict who is most likely to come onto the market within two months. We can also reach the rental market where you can talk to renters about the benefits of buying over renting... and with rent prices surpassing mortgage costs in our current climate, this is a more and more promising set of prospects to market to. We can also reach not only the whole market but first-time buyers too, who have long been a target for housebuilders.


High competition

Property portals might get a lot of traffic but you're competing with a multitude of listings. Your developments can easily get lost amongst all the other properties up for sale unless the user filters to new homes only. Even then, you’re competing with the other housebuilders vying for attention in the same space. You’re at the mercy of the property portal’s algorithms - unless you pay more to be featured at the top, of course! Your marketing is diluted and it’s tricky to stand out – again, unless you pay more.

TwentyCi solution:

We offer a fresh approach to marketing for housebuilders. As no single solution fits all, we take a bespoke approach by combining the marketing channels that best suit your goal. Choose from direct mail, mobile advertising, email marketing, social media advertising, programmatic and TV digital ads. For example, let’s look at how we run our mobile ads. In partnership with Admessenger, we offer scrolling text banners that sit on the bottom of a user’s mobile screen when they visit various sites. Think of a news ticker. These ads will reach the screens of those in the moving journey or we’ve identified as likely to move in two months. These ads are far more effective than standard ads and typically achieve a higher click-through rate (CTR) of 0.8% than typical mobile banners at 0.35%. Google stopped publishing their double click display CTR benchmarks but their last data in 2015 showed an average of 0.05%. So, we are achieving strong results for our clients.



What are property portals without listings? An empty site! They rely on you to list your property to make their business work. So why are they so pricey? Well, they know that estate agents and housebuilders have become reliant on them to market their properties and developments.

Property portals require hefty fees and commissions that can really eat into your marketing budget. It’s not great in the current market as the housebuilding industry struggles to find buyers due to the cost-of-living crisis, higher mortgage rates and the end of the Help to Buy scheme. The cost of materials is also eating into housebuilder profit margins. Take Crest Nicholson who announced a massive 70% slump in profits due to high build costs and high mortgage rates. Persimmon also “warned of a highly uncertain housing market in 2024.” During such tough times, housebuilders need to explore more cost-effective alternatives. 

As well as the standard listing option, property portals offer add-ons to improve the visibility of your development. They can boost your listing to the top of the site and offer customisable messages, larger photos, interactive carousels or banner adverts. However, all of these extras cost more. And if your competitors are paying for it, the visibility of your development suffers.

TwentyCi solution:

Our solution is less expensive than two of the biggest property portals, and we offer multi-channel packages with up to a 25% discount. What’s more, we generate an average ROI of 20:1.


Lack of brand awareness

You have less opportunity to build brand awareness on a property portal. Whilst they do allow you to include your brand logo, it can get lost amongst a lot of other content that’s being thrown at the website visitor. It’s a struggle to differentiate yourself from competitors as all housebuilders appear on the site in the same way. You have limited control over how you’re represented as listings are subject to the portal's formatting guidelines. You also have limited space to showcase your unique selling points. How can you tell your brand story and establish a stronger presence in the market with such constraints? As we mentioned, there are optional extras to set yourself apart, but they come with a price tag and still ultimately restrict how you present your brand.

TwentyCi solution:

A single marketing channel will never amplify your visibility; hence we combine marketing channels to generate more eyeballs on your adverts. Our direct mail delivers personalised messages and the tangibility of our postcards, brochures and leaflets fosters a more memorable interaction and a lasting impression. This is combined with geo-targeted mobile ads that cut through the media noise helping to boost brand awareness to your target audience. With our marketing initiatives, such as our email campaigns, the content is delivered to the recipient without any additional branding from our end. Instead, it solely features your branding to uphold consistency and integrity.


Locked in a contract

As we mentioned, portals often tie you into a lengthy contract. You’re at their mercy! This restricts your ability to try out different marketing attempts if the portal isn’t providing enough leads.

TwentyCi solution:

We don’t tie our clients down with lengthy contracts…You just pay for what you need.


Portals require the customer to take action

Let’s not forget that people have to actually visit these property portals to find out about your development. Not everyone will! You’re not going directly to your potential customers; you’re just hoping they visit the portals. There are quite a few property portals. Do your prospects even know about them all? Of course, they probably know the big ones but are they going to visit each one? Are you going to spend even more of your budget by advertising your development on each one to make sure you capture everyone?

TwentyCi solution:

Instead of waiting for prospects to come to you through property portals, why don’t you go directly to them? Rightmove states that “43% of the Rightmove audience wants to move.” So over half of their audience have no intention of actually buying a new home. When you work with TwentyCi, we only target homemovers, renters looking to move, first-time buyers and those intending to relocate in the next two months. There’s no wasted marketing because our audience is in the market for a new property!



Managing your property portal account eats away at your sales team’s time. They will have to spend several hours a day preparing property descriptions and amending information when they should be talking to potential customers. They should be selling not marketing!

TwentyCi solution:

We have a dedicated team of marketers ready to handle your campaign, allowing your sales team to focus on their core task – selling. Our team will generate leads, freeing up your sales team to concentrate solely on closing deals.


Missing out on emerging opportunities

When you’re locked in a contract and plying a big chunk of your marketing budget into property portals, you’re missing out on other potential marketing avenues.  

Gone are the days when simply listing a property on portals was enough to generate buyers. Today, sales teams within housebuilders must embrace forward-thinking strategies to drive momentum. It's innovative marketing and ideas that will pave the path to success.

TwentyCi solution:

We offer a fresh approach to the property portal way. You are in the driving seat – we do the work for you. That way you can get ahead of your competitors actively marketing to the same audiences.


Final Thoughts

Property portals are great for visibility and reach and they certainly do help you to connect with potential buyers. But don’t be held hostage to them! They’re not the only option. Try different routes to market your developments. In these tough economic times, you need to think outside the box and outsmart your rivals. If you’re not learning, growing or pushing boundaries for your business, you’ll become complacent or ‘just another housebuilder on the portal.’