Countrywide is going to announce “in the very near future” that it is taking a stake in two tech start-up companies as it builds what it calls a “digital offer” to customers.
Estate Agent Today has been told by Countrywide chief executive Alison Platt that “we’re behind the curve when it comes to delivering mobile and digital technology to customers.”
But Platt says that while there were pressures to “just go out and buy an existing online agent” she wants instead to harness digital technology to offer the wider range of Countrywide’s services across property management, surveying and mortgage finance, and not just advertise homes for sale and to let.
“So we’re going to build rather than buy, and the two companies that have impressed us enough to take a stake in, will be in addition to continuing our long-standing investment in [property technology workshop] PI Labs” says Platt.
Estate Agent Today understands that the two start-ups are working on providing targetting customer services primarily for the lettings sector, with one of the firms particularly active in the use of social media.
Platt has also outlined her broader belief in how Countrywide - Britain’s largest estate agency group - should approach online technology.
She says that for customers “digital enablement is key” but online should be introduced to give vendors, buyers, landlords and tenants a choice, and not be the only available route. Platt says the evidence is clear that at the moment the considerable majority of the public still want to have face-to-face dealings with agents and other property professionals.
It should not replace the opportunity for people to visit Countrywide agency offices, or have the staff visit them in their homes if that is preferred.
“Whatever channel you use, we’ll still service your needs expertly” says Platt.