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Property Natter: on my travels

It’s all been kicking off in recent weeks, hasn’t it? Marmite wars, the endless Trump v Clinton debate, Samsung phones blowing themselves up and the government finally picking a side in the interminable extra runway battle between Heathrow and Gatwick (if you’ve been on holiday or living in a cave, they went for Heathrow).

During all this, though, the property world has remained the calm in the storm, getting on with things as usual, impervious to outside pressures. 

One example of this is KeyAGENT, the brains behind the PropertyBOX app, who I met with a few weeks ago. As our story on Estate Agent Today outlined, a select number of estate agents were given access to PropertyBOX, a free floor plan and photo enhancing app which KeyAGENT claims is the world’s first. 

In essence, PropertyBOX enables agents to upload an unlimited amount of photos and floor plan sketches, which the app then converts into digitised, ready-to-use images. It aims to make property lists properly beautiful, no matter what the weather. As they say, in a digital world, polished photos and floor plans help to sell homes

One big advantage of PropertyBOX is the fact it can accept any file types, from shots taken on an iPhone to professional-standard images taken on a DSLR camera. What’s more, its rapid file processing helps to provide users with speedy results. 

Its first launch was capped to 100 agents, but with high demand the company insists it won’t be long before the next launch is kicked off. Again, it comes back to that buzz word: PropTech; clever solutions to industry problems that help make the lives of agents easier and less stressful.  

The demand is for products that are fast, efficient, time-saving, flexible, innovative, low-cost and brand-enhancing, filling a void, providing a simple and effective solution to a common issue or query. 

PropertyBOX, which was originally designed in 2011, but has been tinkered with, honed, matured and refined in the last five years, is the brainchild of KeyAGENT’s Managing Director, Rolf Groenewold, and his team, including co-founder and product director Tim Wright

KeyAGENT itself provides professional photography and other specialised services (everything from audio tours to Energy Performance Certificates) to property agents across the UK, working with more than 1,500 branches. The firm, founded in 2010, was originally based in Oxford, but has been operating in London since 2011. Well worth keeping an eye on. 

All together now

I attended the Property Investor & Homebuyer Show at the beginning of October, held at London’s ExCeL centre over two days. It is the country’s biggest – and longest-running – exhibition of UK and international property. 

Moreover, it is a great chance to meet, speak to and network with a wide range of property people, from landlords, investors and buyers to property professionals, exhibitors and PropTech innovators.    

With around 70 seminars, 100+ exhibitors, presentations and panel debates, all bases are covered. PropTech is now an increasingly important part of the show, with a 'PropTech Zone' appearing for the first time this year. Here, innovators have the chance to present exciting digital solutions to property problems. Properstar, Rentr and Reposit were just some of the companies exhibiting.

Another one was The Digital Marketing Bureau, founded by James Dearsley – a very keen PropTech advocate – in October 2012. The marketing firm aims to help its clients perfect their online brand, increasing, honing and enhancing an online presence for the now and the future. 

As well as exhibiting, Dearsley also did a 45-minute seminar analysing the impact of property technology on everything from landlords and developers to estate agents and lawyers. 

It was a very interesting presentation, covering everything from apps and Virtual Reality to 3D Printing. Dearsley is always an engaging presence and has some excellent insights into the future of the property market. His website – check out the articles on PropTech in particular – is well worth a visit.

During the two day event I also bumped into one of our clients, Together, which started life back in 1974. Its main goal remains the same, “offering individual solutions to markets traditionally underserved by mainstream lenders”. 

Over the years it has sought to adapt and alter its services to a changing world and the changing requirements of its customers. It proudly counts itself as one of the few lenders who kept trading and lending throughout the financial crisis and is now looking forward to what the next 40 years holds for the world of finance, mortgages and loans.  

The man who founded Together in 1974, Henry Moser, is now the Group Chief Executive Officer, but still remains a figurehead for the company. Their approach to business, influenced by Moser throughout the years, is people-first, people-led. 

After all, without people, you have no business and no customers. It might sound a bit schmaltzy, but people really are everything when it comes to the success of a company or idea.

Very few things can exist without people or interaction, in some shape or form. 

Winning new business

In the world of PropTech, whilst much of it focuses on simplifying processes, there are some which concentrate on winning agents new business. One worthy of mention is Realsale.

Their innovative software lets agents create audio tours ‘in house’ - the clever bit is that it adds a bespoke professional narration, specific to that property, automatically. Here’s an example.  

Think of it as the floorplan software of audio tours. Their pricing structure is similar too, so it can save a fortune on outsourcing. Interestingly, the tours can also double up as a lead generation tool, carrying whatever call to action you require – for example, ahem, your Valpal tool! They currently offer a free trial I believe, so it’s definitely worth exploring.

That's all from me this week. Until next time...when we will be just over 6 weeks away from Christmas Day (eek! Where has this year gone?)

*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today

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