The property portal industry is highly competitive, but one CEO is carving out a niche!

Vernon Pethard’s dedicated new homes portal newhomesforsale.co.uk, has amassed an impressive 1.2 million active users, thanks to a portfolio of properties from over 90% of the nation’s top housebuilders

Vernon Pethard

In a highly competitive market dominated by the likes of Zoopla and Rightmove, very few property portals manage to survive, let alone prosper. With more than 40 years of experience in the property game under his belt, Vernon Pethard is one entrepreneur who has not just surpassed the odds. As the founder of newhomesforsale.co.uk, the Stratford-based businessman has built the UK’s leading dedicated new homes portal, which has an impressive 1.2 million active users, thanks to a portfolio of properties from over 90% of the nation’s top housebuilders. With an 11-strong team, the company’s ability to carve out such a significant share of the market is remarkable and symbolises its commitment to evolving with the times. Unlike its competitors, newhomesforsale.co.uk didn’t begin life as a website, but rather as a series of news publications established by Vernon in 1998.

‘By 2003,’ he explains, ‘the business had grown to seven regional newspapers covering most of the UK’s new homes market, as well as its premier housebuilders.

‘Given that we had a well-established audience, we had no problem evolving from print to digital media in line with consumer preferences, and our website quickly became our primary channel, allowing us to rapidly expand our userbase.’ 

So far, so straightforward – or so it sounds. The reality at the time, however, was far from it, as Vernon attests. 

‘Taking the business online was certainly not as easy as I thought it would be, and there were lots of new disciplines to learn, as well as technical expertise to onboard. This is because, in such a competitive marketplace, it’s not enough to simply have a website and wait for the enquiries to roll your way – you have to consider a whole host of things, from SEO to UX and social media engagement. There was no manual to starting a website back then; digital was all new and everything was being done on the fly. We had lots to learn on the go, and plenty of hefty decisions to make to perfect our offering for a digital audience. However, with our excellent partnerships and understanding of the market, we’ve managed to grow and succeed into the digital age where many of our competitors have fallen by the wayside.’

Successfully bringing a business online is one thing, but attaining the level of growth that newhomesforsale.co.uk has over the past two decades is another entirely. Vernon reflects on how he achieved this.

‘Anyone who’s involved in an online company will know that the business year effectively runs for about three months at a time – that’s just how rapidly the market changes. We therefore take the view that we need to review things on a much more frequent basis. This not only ensures we know how we’re performing at any given time, but also helps us to prepare for what challenges we might face in the next quarter. As a team, we rely on taking a collaborative approach to decision making and problem solving, and are constantly testing different aspects of the company to see what things work better than others, even down to stuff like where buttons and calls to action are placed on the website. If there’s a problem, we’re fortunate to have a brilliant team who will come together to resolve it. This has been one of the key factors to the success of our business.’

So, after accomplishing so much in the new homes market over the last two decades, what does the future hold for newhomesforsale.co.uk? 

‘Our website is constantly adapting to meet the dynamic demands of the market, including the need for new homes and available purchasing incentives, while staying abreast of evolving digital standards. We regularly conduct UX/UI testing to ensure an optimal user experience. Our SEO strategy remains robust, flexibly responding to algorithm changes and industry trends. 

‘We currently have in excess of 400,000 followers on social media platforms and with contemporary techniques, we will extend our reach and relevance in the marketplace. Ongoing data analysis deepens our understanding of buyer behaviour, enabling us to tailor our offerings effectively. Furthermore, we are committed to continue championing the needs of first-time buyers, ensuring their journey into homeownership is as smooth and rewarding as possible.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Bowen
John Bowen
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