I’m writing this a week into my instruction decision. It has been a fascinating journey to date.
As I discussed last week, I decided to put some faith into the newer models untested by me previously.
Partly, this was due to the fact that I had no real financial justification not to try them first as everyone valued the property the same and, quite frankly, the systems and processes of the new breed were a lot better, smoother and slicker than the incumbents.
What I didn’t mention was that only two of the businesses I had around to value our property actually turned up at the prescribed time! Such a simple thing to work on, but with an average lateness time of 15 minutes, I just don’t understand how this is acceptable.
Needless to say, I instructed one of the two who turned up on time and one that had a smooth initial process too.
This first week has been fascinating looking at the processes undertaken. Most of it has been completely seamless and far quicker and easier than I remember.
Initially the installation of a ‘key-safe’ box was a revelation, allowing for remote viewers to access my account without the need for agents to have to pop into offices to collect keys (oh the days of accidentally dropping keys into filing cabinets meaning no one could find them - I never did this by the way!).
Knowing that there was a box giving me full access to keys 24/7 was a huge benefit and mentality made me feel in complete control of access.
That flexibility of access also meant that there was no hassle for my tenants and also for anyone I wanted to go around - more of that later - at any time.
This also meant access for photos and floorplans was quick and easy and the interesting aspect here was how the ‘Onbrid’ then gave me access to ‘approve’ the photos, floorplans and descriptions through the client portal.
Now, let’s go back a step. In my day, the agent was responsible for this bit. We took the photos, we selected those to go on the website, we did the floorplans and wrote the descriptions of the property. We then published (we may have asked the client whether they approved of the artwork but that was about it). The onus was on the agent, not the seller to sort.
This new way changed the mentality of approval. The ‘Onbrid’ gave me the tools on which to work with, down to automatically generated text, based on how I had initially described the property way back when I requested the valuation, but now it was down to me.
Here I was, having changed some of the text, deleted photos I wasn’t sure reflected my property well and ordered them the way that I wanted them seen, believing I knew best.
Having ‘published’ the property on the portals, I was then fascinated by the figures I was getting back. In the first week, my property had appeared nearly 10,000 times in search, had a click through rate of 9.61% and here I was questioning my own ability to market the property.
I felt responsible for the marketing. The onus of marketing my property had switched to me and I was paying for the privilege.
With more traditional models, having not paid a penny, I would have been questioning the agent, here, having paid an upfront fee, I was actually questioning my own ability of picking photos and getting descriptions correct. What a fascinating ploy on client responsibility.
Having said all of that, and going back to the keysafe box - which, as many of you will know, was to give the Viewber agents access - this enabled me to test out two providers of 3D Virtual Tours; both Matterport technology and a simpler but equally effective EyeSpy 360 tour.
While I have said I wouldn’t give out the names of suppliers here, it is obvious from the tours and in the interests of being fair, the Matterport Tech was supplied by The 360 View firm, led by Ollie Kilvert.
You can see the output from both firms below:
The 360 View
While I find these tours incredibly helpful, I am shocked at just how bad the experience is on the portals. If you look for virtual tours on property searches, they are included as a tab which then simply has a link to the tour rather than actually giving the user the ability to view the tour in the platform. What is that about?
Did I also mention that on Rightmove, virtual tours are actually not even visible, on the very platform that they would be best viewed? Come on portals, keep up. Tech is never going to get good purchase if you hide it away from the very users that would benefit from it.
So that is a tech view of the first week. Impressive systems, but let’s see if they have the buyers. Depending simply on the portals is only one aspect of finding me the buyer for my place.
Viewings kick off next week and we shall see how this side of the selling process is dealt with.
*James Dearsley is a partner in PropTech Consult, digital transformation specialists for the real estate sector.