Home buyers and tenants needing to move would be forgiven for heading straight to online portals when looking for a new property.

While it's a great window shopping experience, consumer body Which? has confirmed what estate agents have known for a long time - that traditional methods of finding a new home are more successful. Which? actually found that just 43% of movers find the property they end up buying by searching or receiving an email from a site like Rightmove or Zoopla.

Traditional methods, such as looking in an estate agent's window, taking a phone call or email from an estate agent, spotting a 'for sale' board outside a property and word of mouth are often more fruitful during the property hunt, and this research emphasises the need to register with local estate agents.

"Home movers tend to forget that the vast majority of houses and flats that are listed online are there only because an estate agent has taken on the listing and uploaded the property to the website," comments Jules Ferrigno at North West London estate agents, London Residential. 

"The smart movers are those who register directly with an estate agent, automatically adding themselves to the waiting list for properties. It is standard practice to offer new-to-market homes to our registered clients before they go anywhere near a portal. A high percentage of the properties we sell and rent actually go under offer before we even make contact with Rightmove or Zoopla."

Jules adds that estate agents also pro-actively seek properties through tailored marketing activities. "It's not uncommon for a client to come to us with a specific road in mind. We then leaflet that street stating that we have a 'buyer waiting'. In many cases, a homeowner considering selling will come forward. All this activity takes place offline and is managed by a 'real' person, rather than an electronic property alert. This is just one positive aspect of dealing with an estate agent direct."