Storm Katie (makes it sound so harmless when they give it a name like that, doesn’t it?) might have given the country a battering over the weekend, but I trust everyone enjoyed their Easter break, chocolate gorging and all!
A few interesting news pieces coming out in the last few days: firstly, the revelation that a McEstate Agency will be opening up in Hampshire early next year.
The first of its kind anywhere in the world, it will offer buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords the chance to discuss property while having a burger, milkshake and fries. Who knows if it will catch on? But “I’ll have a Big Mac and a home, please!” has a certain ring to it.
Elsewhere, we now have drones delivering keys to the homes of new buyers. The successful trial, carried out last week by three separate agencies, could herald the end of buyers having to head to the branch of their estate agent to pick up the keys to their new home.
We will have to see where that goes in the future, but another sign that technology really is speeding forward at an incredibly fast rate.
I have also been out and about, having meetings with all sorts of interesting people and companies these past few weeks. In between delving into the inner workings of the software industry and finding out how estate agent offices are being revolutionised, I have had a meeting with 192.com, the well-known online directory firm.
The thing they are promoting most to agents is their findaschool tool, which enables people to search for local schools and find a load of information about catchment areas, admissions criteria, OFSTED rankings, exam results and a whole heap more.
I also met the other day with a familiar face in the property industry. Sam Ashdown, prolific blogger and industry expert, is helping us out with our ValPal tool as an introducer and trainer.
Without wanting to blow our own trumpet too much, the ValPal tool has really taken off in a big way in the last few months. A simple concept, but one that has filled a gap in the market, the tool is a bit of software that sits on an agents’ website and offers an instant online valuation in return for capturing the seller/landlord’s details.
In addition to all this, I have had a few meetings with an exciting company called Estate Apps. I mentioned them briefly in another blog, but to refresh your memories they are a specialist digital creative agency providing web design, app development, content and branding for the property industry. They’ve got a very cool, modern and interactive website and some interesting ideas on how agents can fully maximise their digital presence.
We’ve also recently teamed up with a similar company, Property Jungle, who describe themselves as “the UK’s most experienced provider of bespoke websites for Estate Agents, Lettings Agents and Property Professionals”. Well-presented, well-connected, well-integrated websites are their trademark. Again, well worth checking out what they offer.
Away from the world of work, I let my inner survival expert out last weekend courtesy of a course run by Woodland Ways. Bear Grylls, eat your heart out!
And I’ve also been trying my best to get good at this skiing lark!
Looking forward, it's not long now until The ESTAS 2016 – always a fantastic afternoon (and evening) out, and a new venue this year; the very plush Grosvenor House Hotel, no less. I must also give a shout out to the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2016. It doesn’t take place until Thursday 14 July at The Rum Warehouse in Liverpool, but nominations for awards are now open and close on 22 April 2016.
I think that's about that. Until next time...
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today