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PropTech Today: Selling my flat - community vs systems

I have total transparency. I love that. 

I know how the portals are doing, I know how many people are clicking on my adverts, I see the difference that subtle changes have on click-through rates. 

I know when viewings are booked, notified by SMS and email. 


I receive near-instant feedback on viewings, from both the agent and potential buyer; two differing opinions that form one actionable truth. 

The systems are near seamless. I understand what’s going on. I have trust in the systems that are helping me sell my property. 

If only there were more viewings... 

Is my flat in a quiet market? Or are the systems, so fluid and seamless, failing to drive enough people my way? 

I popped a note to one of the more impressive high street agents that I recently had in to value the property. It asked him how the market was performing in the local area. Within five minutes he called me for a chat. Impressive, I thought, clearly someone wants my business. 

This agency are on the same road as my flat. They know the road and they know the property, almost intimately, if that’s not too strange a way to put it. More importantly, they already have people on their books who are looking for exactly what I’ve got (I remember saying just those words).

The ‘Onbrids’, with their slick systems and branding, perhaps lack the sort for hyper-local presence and therefore lack the community knowledge and perhaps applicants required to efficiently market a property. 

Three weeks into the selling process, this is my state of mind... 

On closer inspection, this could be both true and false. When challenged, the Onbrid stated that as soon as an instruction is brought on, they email everyone, with the appropriate budget, who is looking to buy within a certain radius of the flat. This goes for historic applicants too, not just active ones.

On the face of it, from an automated perspective, this is actually quite impressive - use the data of clients past to inform personalised communication and notifications when new properties arrive on the market. I wonder how far back this data record goes; it could quickly become tired and irrelevant. 

My own experience of being an agent is ever present in this search. I used to know my clients inside out and back to front. I used to sit in meetings as the valuer told us the latest instructions and get truly excited because I knew this new property was perfect for Mrs X and her daughter. 

I would run back to my desk and start my call out/text out/email out (though frowned upon back then) and, because Mrs X knew me and knew I wasn’t a time-wasting ar$ehole (for the most part), they would pick up straight away. When I suggested they come and have a look, they would happily, eagerly do so. 

I quickly got back in touch with the high street agent, instructing that they get cracking with viewings for those people they know might be interested. At this point, I’m willing to take a hit on the full fees in order to successfully reach terms with a buyer. 

A contradiction on previous discussions in this column, perhaps, my being willing to pay full fees for the sale of my property. Avoidance of this was my very motivation for trying the Onbrids first. However, I feel I would have been a fool not to reopen that door, given current market conditions. 

What’s more, this is the sale of our flat, the place in which I knelt to propose. It means a lot to Mrs D. and I, and I want someone to offer the appropriate care and attention that recognises the emotional attachment involved with the sale. 

The Onbrids have impressed me with their systems, but perhaps the traditionals give a sh*t more and hold the key to my likely community of buyers. 

To be frank, I don’t care who sells the house as long as, a) I get a good price and b) they get it done as soon as possible. The Onbrid has the headstart and has enabled me to consider a backup of the high street to complement their efforts. 

So now we have a two-way race between technology and tradition. All we can do now is wait and see who gets there first. 

*James Dearsley is a partner in PropTech Consult, digital transformation specialists for the real estate sector.

  • Richard Rawlings

    Nice balanced piece James and I look forward to reading updates! R

    James Dearsley

    Thanks Richard, lets see what happens next.......!

  • Martin Williams

    James, are you doing the viewings? because to be fair and balanced you would need to talk to the viewer and ask this important question... " how did you know / first find out / see the property was available for sale" this way you know if it was the agents hot box ( that sounds SO last century !) or if it was simply a portal listing.

    James Dearsley

    Hey Martin,

    No, I am quite far away from the property so not possible for me to do so. Simply feedback from the agent/s.

    Gotta love the hot box!


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