The average estate agency now utilises around 20 different PropTechs for various functions; often relying on multi-vendor solutions for sales, lettings, and increase property management, along with all the add-on PropTech services on top.
Now having choice is good, but there are significant disadvantages involved with using several disparate systems over having all of your solutions in one place on a centralised, end-to-end solution with some elements single-sourced and the others pre-integrated. Here as some of the top ones:
Agencies using multiple vendors will have to negotiate the prices of services with each supplier separately, rates can vary, and your overall fees will likely be higher as you’ll be purchasing separate individual modules for your chosen solutions, with contracts running on different lengths and renewing at different times.
Having all of your solutions in one place may have a higher individual cost than its nearest competitors, but it can generate wider savings overall with more optimised workflows, better compliance, and the ease-of-integration for third-party applications.
Running multiple systems and coordinating with several suppliers simultaneously requires more time and greater resources to manage and oversee communication processes. This may mean you experience more issues in product quality assurance, process management, and general tasking.
On an end-to-end solution, all data has a single source of truth, significantly enhancing workflow optimisation and enabling agencies to build communication processes only once to establish a much smoother flow of information. It also means a greater level of compatibility between components.
Having multiple vendor solutions increases complexity when it comes to integrating and utilising different components. This can lead to communication issues and risks data duplication and integrity. Ultimately, having different teams work on different systems disrupts operational processes and will likely require more time and money, in the long run, to function effectively as more emphasis is placed on maintenance over technology optimisations.
This is much less of an issue with a centralised solution, where it is much easier to optimise and integrate systems as a single supplier owns the product knowledge, making it much easier to migrate from your pre-existing systems.
Managing compliance obligations is a necessity to avoid exposing your agency to unnecessary risks. Agencies must remain compliant with anti-money laundering (AML) and regulations, which do get regularly updated. For agencies using multi-vendor solutions, there can be considerable challenges with managing customer due diligence and handling personal data.
Whereas an end-to-end solution centralises and mitigates these risks, supporting automatic alarms and reminder workflows, and integrating all your supplies on one system to ensure your agency can remain compliant in a rapidly changing regulatory environment.
Following on from compliance, cybersecurity is also a rapidly growing risk centre for estate agents, something I’ve covered previously. Cyber-security is vitally important for almost any business, particularly for businesses like estate agencies that manage large amounts of valuable customer data, and the risks of a breach can harm both your customers and your business, with the added threat of fines for failing to protect personal data.
Agencies using multi-vendor systems open themselves up to wider security risks and possible back doors, and the risk of a breach increases with every vendor you bring on board. With a centralised solution, all customer data is managed and protected in one place, making it much easier to monitor all aspects of data security and respond accordingly.
These represent just some of the top-level challenges of using multi-vendor technologies in your business strategy, as well as some of the key reasons why agencies should work with an aligned eco-system where integration is a standard and simplicity for the user is a prerequisite; you get all the choice without the complications.
The digital transformation of estate agency is only going to continue and going back to my initial observation on the expansion of the PropTech industry, there will be an increasing volume of technologies competing for your business. That certainly means more choice, but that also means greater disadvantages and risks for agencies using multiple vendors.
Certainly, here at Reapit, we are seeing that agencies increasingly want solutions offering sales, lettings, and property management; and on top of having a complete solution with all of these included, there is increasing demand for all the add-on PropTech services that go with it.
Property management in particular is a steadily growing market with high demand for private rented properties, and with almost 300,000 managed tenancies this has given us a strong perspective on the increasing importance of property management requirements for agents and landlords, particularly with regard to compliance.
Of benefit to agencies, one major shift in the past couple of years, in particular, has been the rapid increase of M&A activity in the property industry. For technology vendors participating in this growth path, this means greater integration between solutions on one platform, of which our recent acquisition of Console in Australia is an example.
The net outlook here for agencies is that increasingly in time, they will be able to get on the technology they need all from one place but without being locked into a single vendor, and without the disadvantages of using multiple separate systems. It’s a choice worth pondering for agencies that want to set themselves up best for success.
*Mark Armstrong is the group chief executive officer of Reapit