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Interview of EAT & LAT Team
Written by the Estate Agent Today team

Interview with Matt Ratliff, CTO at Sort Group

Who are you and what does it say on your business card?

Matt Ratliff, Chief Technology Officer of Sort Group.

How has your company had to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic?

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As an online business, we have been fortunate that our customers have always been able to access our services remotely and this did not change throughout the Covid pandemic. As a wider group, though, we had to provide remote working and telephony for all our staff to ensure we were still available to support our customers. 

We also had to be very cognizant of how our supplier panel were managing and we worked closely with them to manage capacity and temporary disruptions forced by Covid outbreaks.

Why is technology so important to the property industry?

Technology is inescapable in modern life and used correctly can vastly improve the way the industry operates. Primarily this is about ensuring that communication lines are open, actions are dealt with promptly and everyone involved in the property transaction – especially the client – knows what is going on and what the next steps are. 

Much of the anxiety with property stems from a lack of communication and technology should allow us to have full insight on a transaction in the palm of our hands.

What will be the biggest change to the mortgage market as a result of Covid?

We already lived in a world transitioning to online and the last year has only made that more important and, oddly, more acceptable. The efficiency of teams working remotely and managing clients needs should mean a more flexible experience for consumers. 

High street presence will be less important than online marketing and extending the range of services may see property professionals have a different and longer relationship with their customers as well as open more business opportunities. We are very close to a fully online property transaction being commoditised so it will be the service and professional quality that will shine through.

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What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

We released our new Fast Start onboarding journey for consumers in 2020 which was developed and released amid a global pandemic. The determination and dedication of the team to keep working hard through such a difficult year and to turn out new tech which is really helping our customers is something I, and they, should be very proud of.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

It is always seeing a positive result for our efforts. Whether that is helping a single client resolve a problem or delivering a major feature to our systems, it is always seeing a tangible outcome and knowing that we made a difference that counts.

Technology is often detached from the heartbeat of a business, but I really stress the importance of knowing how our actions can affect the wider group and our performance for the better.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing estate and letting agents at the moment?

Change is always difficult, whether it be within an organisation or across the whole industry. With competition fierce, new and innovative products or business models being tried out or growing there is an unrelenting pressure for agents to update, diversify, add technology and deliver for consumers in a digital age.  

The new breed of consumers wants 24/7 information, unambiguous value from services and unlimited choice. Differentiation in that marketplace will be challenging and require clear leadership and vision to ensure success.

What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2021?

After last year, who knows!? I would imagine everyone is desperate for a holiday right now so I would not be surprised at a bit of a slow-down whilst everyone catches their breath but, after this SDLT peak ends, we will soon be back to building pipelines for the back end of the year and into 2022 and demand is still sky high.

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Country house or city apartment?

Country house space but with all the mod-cons.

Trendy roof terrace or traditional English garden?

Roof terrace – gardening is one of my worst nightmares.

Would you rather be a free-moving tenant or settled owner-occupier?

Owner-occupier. I am not sentimental so moving does appeal but it is very British to want to be, and stay, on the property ladder.

What is your favourite room in your home?

Our front room. It doesn’t get much use but has big sofa and a TV for film nights.

Homes under the Hammer or Location, Location, Location?

Homes under the Hammer – love the cheesiness of it.

*Matt Ratliff is Chief Technology Officer of Sort Group, the company behind SortRefer

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