Tech is a fantastic enabler but should never be a complete replacement for the human interactions that add real value to the moving journey, in my opinion.
We’re seeing AI increasingly replace human interaction in our daily lives. We use online banking to transfer funds from one account to another instead of going into branches, and we’re at the checkout of Amazon more than those on the high street.
Convenience is key and automating day-to-day chores like this gives us more time back to spend on the things that really matter or to get more done in our day, so no harm done.
Should the way we buy and sell property follow suit? I’d say yes and no. As the founder of a business built on finding the next tech solution for estate agents, the no may come as a surprise - but hear me out!
Buying or selling a home is an emotional experience and there are interactions along the way that just can’t be automated – in fact, it could make the experience worse.
Take a conveyancing delay, for example. If that was delivered to a buyer by an automated message, they might not get to understand the full picture or be left feeling reassured that there’s a plan in place to move things along. More often than not, it would be better for the agent to take the lead here and explain the hold-up, so the buyer knows it’s in hand.
Or how about the offer stage. This gives agents a chance to add real value as they use their experience to advise sellers on the best purchaser and the options available to them. An automated list of offers for the seller to choose from independently wouldn’t be enough for most people to make an informed decision.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many parts of the moving process which are crying out to be digitised, and by doing so would improve the experience for everyone involved in transactions.
Take client onboarding, for example. What if this was automated, with buyers and sellers completing their own onboarding journey digitally, proving all information upfront via an online form? We know that this alone would contribute to reducing agents’ admin time per transaction by around two hours*.
That’s two extra hours from just one transaction that could be spent on areas that add real value to the business, like agreeing sales and securing new leads. It’s quick and simple for the client too and could be done from their sofa – all about convenience.
Automations like this are the parts of the process agents and consumers want to see digitised. They’re at the heart of movebutler – a digital onboarding platform we’ve created to digitise the admin heavy parts of the transaction, which are the parts that usually take agents away from their clients.
We always create tech as an enabler and not to replace all face-to-face interaction which is really important in many aspects of the process still.
Consumers are demanding better experiences and expecting smooth transactions, making competition fierce and causing bottlenecks. As suppliers we need to respond to the need for innovation and new ways of alleviating the burden on agents, freeing them up to deliver the service elements of the transaction and delight their clients.
Getting the right amount of digital processes vs human interaction in the moving journey is a balancing act, but movebutler hits the mark.
(*Calculations based on 30-mins onboarding per buyer/seller and 32-mins per customer pitching and following up conveyancing and mortgage services.)
*Ben Ridgway is Group Managing Director of iamproperty