WHY TECH IS VITAL FOR ESTATE AGENCY – ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTER
Published 14 November 2022
Selling houses always has been, and always will be, about people. Buying a home is usually the biggest financial decision any of us will make, but it is also an emotional one, because as we all know, it’s not just about the bricks and mortar, but about people’s security, hopes and dreams.
That said, there is no doubt that technology is playing a bigger part in the process. There is nothing wrong with that. Tech can make the whole process smoother, as long as you use it appropriately, leaving the human beings more time to build relationships and really understand their clients.
Since Rightmove came along at the start of the new millennium, portals have been the biggest market disruptor to the way people look for property. This technology, coupled with the then new-fangled internet, made it possible for house buyers to find their next home from their office desk or sitting room, instead of investing time and shoe leather by calling in to every estate agent covering their preferred location, or looking at the weekly newspaper which was always out of date by the time it went to print!
Then came Google and Apple Maps. Not only did these apps allow potential buyers to explore both a property and its environs before committing to seeing it, but they also allowed people to plot and pinpoint their destination, and know how long it will take to get there – even allowing for Norfolk’s endless roadworks and consequent diversions.
Now another technological advance has come along to enhance potential buyers’ experience. 360 degree virtual tours are a new way to view a property from the comfort of your armchair with state of the art cameras and image processing. These tours mean that sellers can reach out to many more viewers, widening the potential pool of buyers.
Surprisingly, only about one in eight agents offer virtual tours, yet buyers love them. In the wintertime, you can have more ‘viewers’ and fewer muddy footprints on your carpets, as the traditional ‘first viewing’ can be virtual – followed by a more serious and committed ‘in person’ second viewing.
Now buyers can preview the kerb appeal by using Google Street View, have an aerial snoop to see where the garden backs on to, and check local schools or pubs, depending on their life priorities! They can look online to check the council tax band, whether there is cable TV, or even how good the mobile reception is.
Unlike floorplans, which are useful but not a legal requirement, you can’t sell or let your house without an EPC. Whilst no-one paid much attention to them when they became mandatory in 2008, in the current energy crisis, the have never been more ‘viewed’.
When you move in, there are software products that can seamlessly move all your utilities to your new home in one go – your estate agent can organise this for you if you wish.
If only the same innovations had been applied to the conveyancing process, we’d all be able to move in three to four weeks after agreeing a sale – instead of the four plus months it currently takes - but that’s for another day!
Jan Hÿtch is residential partner at Arnolds Keys.
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