A few of our Industry Views pieces this week focus on the upcoming EU referendum. I don’t think I can add much more to an already fevered and wide-ranging debate which appears to have got the whole country talking politics.
Instead, I'm going to talk about mortgages. I know, I know, but this is a market that is changing and adapting, with some innovative companies altering how we think about this integral part of the property industry.
Trussle – which tags itself as ‘the simpler way to get a mortgage’ – is one such company. The people behind it call it a new kind of mortgage adviser – one that is straightforward, impartial and, most importantly for the penny-pinchers, completely free. So, you might ask, what’s the catch? Does anyone really offer an entirely free and impartial service?
Well, the website would suggest that very much is the case. Trussle is FCA registered, operates a free and no obligation service and considers all lenders equally, with the promise that consumers always get the best possible deal put in front of them.
It essentially offers a “matchmaking” service – matching those seeking mortgages to those providing them.
The London-based firm, which launched in December 2015, was founded by Jonathan Galore and Ishaan Malhi, with backing from Localglobe, Seedcamp, Entrepreneur First and a number of major UK investors. Trussle uses technology to challenge the traditional mortgage broker by scouring the net to find the best-value mortgages and then helping to manage the often complex mortgage process hereafter.
All of which begs the question – are mortgage brokers going out of fashion? Are they old hat? Should agencies still have their very own specialist in-house or is this now redundant? In the case of Trussle, it’s clear its founders believe that the future of mortgage brokerage is very much an online venture.
I’m not so sure the role of mortgage brokers or in-house mortgage brokers will be a thing of the past for a good while yet – people still like the security of meeting with someone face-to-face and building a personal relationship with the person trying to find them a mortgage.
Trussle, which secured £1.1 million in investment before launching, has shown, though, that there is clearly an appetite out there for mortgage advice done solely online.
Zoopla is one company that has thrown its weight behind these technology start-ups. Earlier this year it invested £1m in Trussle, peer-to-peer lending platform Landbay, tenant management platform Fixflo and neighbourhood checker website Property Detective.
Trussle and Zoopla have an exclusive relationship which, they say, aims to make it easier than ever before for people to find and buy a home.
Zoopla itself has its own mortgage repayment calculator, which enables people to calculate their monthly repayment costs based on the price of the property, the term of the loan and the deposit put down.
At Angels, we are also looking at ways in which we can incorporate mortgages into the world of ValPal – looking at how some sort of mortgage based product could benefit the agent network we have built up. Watch this space!
There has also been a lot of buzz recently about Big Data – it would certainly appear that it’s becoming a thing. Definitions vary, but this sums it up pretty nicely: “big data is extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.” It might sound like trendy management speak, granted, but there is an important point in there for those of us that work in the property industry.
As an agent, your business relies on vendor and landlord leads – without them, you might as well give up. But capturing them, their data, their information, is the difficult part. Once you have it, there are increasingly clever things that can be done with it, but first you need to capture the information because it is unlikely to come to you.
In this technological age, a tonne of data is flying around the world every second. Data is being picked up and pounced on by companies looking for consumers to buy their product(s).
Estate agents are no different. You need to know your local market inside out, you need to know the names and addresses of every potential seller and landlord on your patch.
Then, as soon as you become aware that they might be selling or letting a property, you’re ahead of the game. And, to make things easier, there are algorithms out there that can tell you exactly who to call or email at exactly the right time.
So how can you capture the data in the first place? As I might have mentioned before, call to actions are a very useful way of capturing data. You spend money drawing people to your website and you can see how many of them look in your shop window, but unless you know who these people are and which ones are likely to transact business with you, it’s all a bit academic.
If asked, a lot of agents would say that the reason they have a website is that it is expected of them but that in reality they don't get that many good leads coming from it.
This can change dramatically if you capture and keep their attention with a call to action that immediately hooks their interest. Once you have their interest and their data, you can then work on converting them into customers.
This is a rapidly developing area of marketing and is far more elegant, intuitive and targeted than anything that has previously been available. What you need to do to ensure your agency flourishes in this new era of intelligent big data is to get in first, seize the first mover advantage and ram it home before someone else does.
That’s all from me this week. Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today