Estate Agent Future Technologies: Adapt or FallNo Comments
In a recent post, we discussed the place of virtual reality in the property sector. This got us thinking about the relationship estate agencies have with new emerging technology. The industry is notoriously slow for adapting to change. Despite this, a few select industry leaders have moved to embrace technology thus causing all others to fall behind. We’re very much in a state of crossroads. If estate agents don’t learn to adapt and utilise new tech, they eventually cease to exist.
Are High Street Agencies At Risk?
The answer’s yes, but they needn’t be. High street estate agents are being less and less commonly used while online variants are coming to the rescue. Why is this? The answer’s simple. It’s all about convenience. Today’s society can’t take time off work to cater for the house hunting process. The majority of online property searches are believed to take place outside of working hours.
Judging by these facts, you’ll be forgiven for thinking high street estate agencies are a thing of the past. This is not necessarily the case. The Guardian reports that industry experts estimate that only around 4% of all homes in the UK are sold online each year. By 2020 they believe this figure to rise to around 50%. So there’s certainly time for high street estate agencies to change their ways.
The Age of Hybrid
You may have heard the term hybrid thrown around a few times when talking about estate agents. What does this actually mean though? The truth is, many have an idea but few have put this into practice.
The concept of a hybrid estate agency is discussed as a middle ground between online and off-line agencies. Basically, you can search and find the ideal home online. You can even go through the motions of buying a house online. Though for an additional charge, you can seek the assistance of a local property manager who’ll walk you through the process and act as a mediator. These local property managers will have a physical presence on the high street so you can still take an old school approach should you wish.
The idea of an online only house sale is terrifying to some, this is why a physical presence is going to be a sought after quality. This physical presence still portrays a particular reputation that puts homebuyers at ease. The Spectator argues: “Perhaps the principal role of an estate agent is not to find us a house so much as to be a scapegoat if the house we buy proves to be terrible”.
Take the Virtual Tour
We don’t believe the average homebuyer will make a purchase based solely on a virtual tour. We do however consider it to be a great place to start. Why browse through pictures online when you can slip your VR headset on and take a stroll from room to room. This is a great tool to avoid wasting time at the very first stage of viewings. This goes back to what we were saying earlier about convenience.
Wearable Tech Potential
So this is an exciting one. What better way to market potential properties than through wearable technology? We’re not far removed from an age where estate agents will use location based marketing alongside innovations like smart glasses. Picture yourself walking down a street in an area where you’ve been previously looking at properties online. Smart glasses will notify you when you’re passing a house on the market which meets your criteria. You can take a look at specs right there and even book a viewing. Sounds space-age but realistically it’s not as far away as you might think.
Today’s Emerging Technologies in High Street Agencies
Back to The Guardian’s discussion around high street estate agents for just a moment. The newspaper exasperatedly state “time and time again we see the same beige interiors, the same sad window displays and mountains of dreary paperwork being pushed back and forth over desks”. Now we’re sure everyone can appreciate this dissatisfying image of estate agencies but it’s just not that simple.
There’s a new wave of estate agencies sweeping the nation which are actually making the process a little less painful than before. We’re talking about plush sofas, backlit digital displays, interactive ads and QR codes that’ll send important details direct to your phone. There are even friendly staff who’ll sit down with you over a cup of coffee sharing different options on their iPad. This is by no means cutting edge but it is a great place to start in integrating new technology into an industry which desperately needs shaping up.
There is an area of the property industry that’s moved forward. Not long ago, homebuyers were forced to knock on neighbours’ doors to ask about their prospective areas. They would ask the agent about a location but were never entirely sure until they moved in. Today you can search your postcode and we’ll provide you with all the important information you need to know before moving house. Fill out a Property Detective report to find out about an area’s crime rates, schools, amenities, noise pollution, flight paths and much more.