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'Agents should see technology as innovative, not disruptive'

The head of a company making virtual walkthroughs for estate agents says the industry wrongly sees technology as a disruptive threat, when it should be seen as a force for innovation.

Antony Waldorf, chief executive of Virtual Walkthrough, says the property industry is now at a crossroads. 

“Like other sectors before it - financial services, fashion, retail and marketing to name a few - property is beginning to appreciate the impact of technology on its services” he says. But he notes that as a conservative industry by nature, UK property professionals have often shied away from technology.  


“This is perhaps because it sees technology as a threat, and has been slow to embrace it. However, it does not have to be a disruptor” he claims.


Waldorf insists that agents should not turn their back on technology just because it is often of as much or more benefit to consumers than to industry insider. 

“It is true that a lot of the innovation coming into the industry is empowering the customer and this is why the industry needs to embrace it, working with the tech sector, so that they don’t get left behind. Essentially estate agents need to work alongside tools that will provide differentiation in a crowded market” he says.

“Over the coming years we will see agents begin to realise that they need to catch up, allowing for a differentiated offer.  There are innovations out there which are helping to better represent the industry and work with it.  The property industry is slowly beginning to move into the future, and hopefully will start trusting and embracing innovative technologies, without fearing disruption” says Waldorf.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Totally agree - it needs to be embraced, not feared. It has been in every other industry, why is estate agency so reticent when it comes to innovation and new technology?

    I know, as the article states, property professionals are a conservative bunch, but we're well into the 21st century now - get with the programme or get left behind!

  • Fake Agent

    @Algarve Investor - maybe because face-to-face is still a better way of doing things. Believe it or not, people still prefer human interaction over some automated, faceless machine.

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    I'm all for innovation and we need the best we can get our hands on. Information is great, but communication is better and it is how we build our business. If a buyer has all the information available, 3D video's etc my phone won't ring. The balance is in providing just enough information to generate a buyer inquiry and appointment to view. We can then appeal to all the buyers emotions. If all the information we provide Kills the communication we will never get the call to ask any potential buyer if they have a property to sell.

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    • R M
    • 13 May 2015 13:11 PM

    "The head of a company making virtual walkthroughs for estate agents says the industry wrongly sees technology as a disruptive threat"
    Excuse me, they don't! Agents will jump at technology that helps them and shun stuff that doesn't. Resistance to a product by Agents isn't a luddite fault with Agents but an issue with the product or the timing of the product.

    Stuff I designed in and specced out in October 2001 was released as cutting edge tech in 2013, the tech wasn't wrong, the agents weren't resistant it was a problem of delivery.

    Get the product right for the agents otherwise, as Rick just said Agents, will not buy into it. The most important thing is to treat agents with respect and do not try to impose technology on them and never try to be superior just because they seemingly don't get what it is you are pushing.

  • Rob  Davies

    Good points, Robert May. As you say, many estate agents have embraced technology in a big way - glossy websites, social media, the portals, virtual tours - but not every single product is going to be useful. I'm a big advocate of the hybrid model - which most agencies virtually are now anyway - where the best attributes of traditional and online are moulded together.

    I'm always very sceptical of those who say online agencies are going to take over the world and that high-street agencies are going to become obsolete, because it's utter nonsense, but there is an argument that some of the more old-school ones are too resistant to change and would much prefer the status quo. These are the ones that will be left behind.

    Unfortunately, many agent websites look like they've been transported from the 1990s. Some are very good, but some are very, very bad. I agree that the majority of agents aren't luddites, but equally the over-the-top dismissal of online agents (by some) shows how out-of-touch they are.

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    • R M
    • 13 May 2015 15:42 PM

    That sudden rush of predictions about the demise of local traditional agents is mainly promoted by those with Crowd funding pitches on the go. Trevor Mealham totted the total to be in excess of £30,000,000 in 6 months, that is a lot of cash to have invested in a sector that has yet and will struggle to launch.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Yeah, I agree Robert. Agents should never have new technology or products forced upon them if they don't believe it's right for their business. On the other hand, there are some agencies who are too stuck in their ways to embrace anything new. They just dismiss it immediately.

    I'm sure, when the portals first arrived or when the internet first became really big, there was resistance to them. Now, agencies would struggle to get by without them. Same with social media. Bit by bit more agencies are seeing its value - not necessarily to help sell houses, but as a means of improving both the reputation and standing of an agency and, more generally, the reputation of estate agents themselves. Which, whatever way you want to spin it, is not good.

    Definitely not sensible to take the 'I'm right, you're wrong' approach, but by the same token certain agencies will be left behind if they're never willing to take a gamble. As Rob says, some agencies still have websites that look like they were created in the very early stages of the internet.

  • Richard White


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    next thing they'll be telling us is that we don't need tape measures to work out room sizes!

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    • R M
    • 14 May 2015 17:31 PM

    @ Richard, вы думаете, у вас есть проблемы !!! testing new site to see it woks with Google Chrome somehow I hit a series of kets that gave me a Russian keyboard.. It was a good job I had some practice a few years back a whole site updated in English and Russian every night for some children from Ukraine http://www.ccllbarnstaple.com/


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