How important is it for estate agencies to keep on top of the world evolving within #PropTech?
The property sector in general is undergoing a seismic shift. The home move process, which has ostensibly remained unchanged since the 19th century, is coming under pressure from consumers to catch up with the digital age in which we live.
We are seeing it in law, where conveyancing management IT systems, offer the consumer more transparency with 24/7 access to their case progress. For the solicitor, who has seen their fee eroded significantly, technology has enabled them to make their business more efficient.
Sound familiar? Irrelevant to the online/high street debate, the consumer demands more for their money. A quick glance at the entrepreneurs behind the latest offerings is revealing; many do not come from an estate agency or property background. They have identified an opportunity to exploit and are bringing innovative ideas to the table.
As with most technologies, things are moving quickly. Do agents need to be abreast of everything…? No. Do they need to look at their geographic, demographic, sources of business, marketing, messaging, identity etc…? Yes… only then will they best identify what they need to move their business forward.
Can an estate agency have a majority of it’s marketing and software managed by one company or are we will still in the territory of having to use multiple agencies to supply our services?
Our work life is more and more like our personal life with various logins to products and services required to simply to our jobs. There is a growing demand for a more consolidated solution to improve efficiency and deliver a better service to clients.
But software providers are not floor plan experts, or compliance experts, or marketing experts. There is still a need for that experience and specialism. I think we will see decisions to take on new products influenced by the ability to deliver more “added value” services over and above the core offering.
One way in which we’re seeing this is the integration of third party apps into agency software. Metropix were the first floor plan provider to offer an integration solution to the software providers.
This is something I believe the software providers need to be alert to; to be a “hub” to access the vast array of apps and services available. This will not only strengthen their own proposition within their market but also present opportunities to embed mutually beneficial relationships between suppliers to leverage their respective client relationships.
What is the usual barrier within estate agency that stops estate agents from embracing the latest in innovation? Is it time, costs or simply a lack of trust?
With the average home owner on the move every 7 years the biggest challenge to estate agents is winning new valuations and listings. Aside from Lettings, there is very little ongoing repeat business. This places an enormous focus on new business generation detracting from investing energies into other parts of the business.
If we take out the corporates (who occupy c.50% of high street bricks and mortar) the average independent agent is an owner/manager who often takes responsibility for new business, marketing, valuations, viewings etc. leaving very little time to take a step back and take stock.
Inevitably cost is a barrier to innovation; but more often than not there needs to be an adjustment of mindset. On the one hand, giving the responsibility of chasing ID from clients to a valuer makes sense. They are an existing overhead so no additional cost is incurred. However, if the time spent chasing that ID could instead yield another valuation or listing per week/month, the cost of outsourcing becomes almost irrelevant.
As with any business, there must be a desire to enact innovation; to drive the business forward. The responsibility to develop this culture lies with the business owner(s). We can all be guilty of not finding the time… as I said before, agents don’t need to know about every available innovation, they simply need to look at what they could do to improve their business.
Thank you to David Opie for taking the time to answer our questions.
David Opie is Marketing Manager of Estate Agency Services, a recently launched division of Landmark incorporating established market services including floor plans from Metropix, AML compliance, mapping, property data and property portal Mouseprice.
Author: Estate Agent Networking UK
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