How technology has changed the way we buy, sell and rent property.

We may all have very much become accustomed to the likes of internet, social media, softwares, iPads and more… But only a generation ago our property searches were very much so still traditional. Technology advancements, especially towards communications channels such as the internet and social media means that we have seen a great many changes in how we now go about our property transactions.

Online Estate Agency has now been born into the ‘Estate Agency Industry’ and many see this new trend of selling and buying homes as the new way forward over traditional estate agency. I usually say to people with these thoughts to remember that a traditional estate agency will still have a website and still be online so there is little real difference except for how they promote their businesses and costs.

We have less time and technology may have made us this way (so I think), no longer do we need to visit endless estate agency shop fronts or pick up all the local newspapers to see which property is for sale or rent where we now have the internet to enable us to browse in comfort and indeed we can carry out this activity via our mobile phones so no need to even power up the PC. Traditional ways of property search can take up valuable time for many of us so the convenience of having everything online makes our lives easier.

Not only are the estate agents / letting agents / online agents ‘online‘, but so are the easy to use property portals which gathers for us nearly all the property we are researching under one umbrella such as Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket. Who really needs to leave the screen of your mobile phone / computer when practically everything we need to research is online… We can cut out wasted time and simply pick and choose which property we are after and ask the important questions before we opt for that all important ‘visit’.

Telephone calls, faxes and popping in to your local estate agency has been replaced with emails, websites and livechat. Of course, we still do pop in to our local estate agency during the buying/selling/renting process otherwise they would have all packed their cases by now and joined the ‘online estate agency train‘. Though we must consider that many more activities relating to property can be done online over face to face, ie audio / video tours online can tell us what a property is like, a virtual tour around a home instead of having to visit the property in person (also good for the property owner selling as it is less inconvenient for them to have time wasting viewings). We can also report faults easier and have no need to pick up the phone to the letting agency or landlord if there is a leak in the roof or the boiler has packed in via softwares such as Fixflo which gives people an easy to use online platform to fill in reports. Facetime also allows you to visit a property in live mode, ie if there is an open house that you can not get to you can ask your estate agent to tour the property on your behalf with their mobile phone / tablet and live stream the video content to you.

Of course, by advances in technology and information in UK property and marketing, it doesn’t mean that the industry is any less serious or controlled and we must remember that more and more stricter guidelines are enforced to make sure that the relationship between property owner / future property owner and ‘Estate Agent / Letting Agent’ is a legal and fair one. You can of course seek an legal advice online as many solicitors now offer online consultation and live chats though you will find that most estate agents are covered by industry bodies so always look out for names such as NAEA or Property Ombudsmen.

Many more technology advancements to include 3D floor plans, augmented reality and virtual reality with the likes of Google Glass make for a technology trend that will take property into a whole new environment. This will really come to effect when the likes of the generation that have grown up with it all, ie the social media savvy generation born from 2000 onwards (and using social media, touch screen, internet etc) hits the property buying/selling/letting market – Their ways of communication and sharing content will be different by quite some way to the generation before them.

 

 

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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