Niamh McHugh

  • Research student

Following the completion of a BSc (Geography) and MSc (International Financial and Political Relations) at Loughborough University, Niamh gained an ESRC Midlands Graduate School funded Joint Studentship with the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. 

PhD Topic/Title: An Enduring Position? How Digital Marketing is influencing the Position of Estate Agents and their consequent role in Processes of Rural Gentrification in the UK.

Estate agencies play an important role in attracting potential homebuyers to rural areas through their marketing strategies. The digital marketing of real estate has become a central part of the industry, as in this current age of digitalisation, estate agencies have ‘found a home online’, with their online presence becoming their most significant avenue in engaging homebuyers and ultimately attracting custom. Studies explicitly investigating the relationship between estate agents and gentrification are scarce within contemporary studies of gentrification, and even more so within rural studies of this process.

Through the use of semi-structured interviews with estate agencies, social media and website analysis this research will explore how the latest technologies are being used to attract homebuyers to rural areas in the UK. In doing so it will assess the key transformations which are taking place in the industry and consequently their impacts on the operation of estate agencies in these rural areas. Finally, it will discuss the initial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry and processes of rural gentrification, focusing upon the time range of March 2020 to March 2021.

PGR Supervisors: Professor Darren Smith and Professor Martin Phillips (University of Leicester)