In this article, Kristian Stott, Head of New Business at iamproperty, analyses the digital revolution in our lives and in property and why we still need to think ‘people first, tech second’.
It’s fair to say the way we interact with each other as human beings has shifted dramatically during the pandemic. In a time where traditional face-to-face contact was cut off, digital adoption accelerated at an unprecedented pace, and more people placed their trust in technology. But does that mean we no longer want that in-person experience when it comes to buying and selling our homes?
Over the last two years, estate agents have had to adapt and react quickly to digital transformation, investing in technology to stay relevant and agile. In an overwhelmingly digital world where 85% of adults head online first to research before making any decisions, it’s crucial for agents to be able to strike a balance between harnessing the latest tech to reach their customers and the need for human interaction.
So, what should your tech strategy be, and how can technology help estate agents to make efficiencies in all the right places?
The challenge for agents is not necessarily about keeping up with technology or adopting new tech, but aligning that journey to their business strategy and the demands of the consumer.
Industry leadership from the PropTech sector has never been more vital, as agents need that single pane of glass which incorporates a panacea of behind-the-scenes technology, to improve their everyday processes and build opportunity for the business. The big challenge will be figuring out where this sits within the PropTech universe (or metaverse!) that’s up for discussion and how this can still be human-led to drive the right customer experiences.
Current market conditions have made the need for mindful technology even more urgent, with a record shortage of property stock in the UK. The market is tight and competition is high - there's less to buy, there's fewer to market, and there aren’t enough instructions to go around.
Success as an agent is going to come down to differentiation. I firmly believe that this happens very early on for the customer - differentiation begins with their desires and expectations, and they are influenced by what they can easily see and hear. Agents have got to ask themselves: what are we giving potential clients that sets us apart as a business, excites and energises our customers, nourishes them and builds their confidence as the transaction develops?
This differentiation will come from using technology to drive marketing, revenue opportunities, and to save time with administration and process, so that time can be spent with customers in person making the process as easy as possible for them.
Even if an agent has a successful traditional methodology, it’s important to look at the tech-led solutions that can ultimately help lift their strike rate and get the lion’s share of instructions in a tighter market. Differentiation is important, but differentiating for the right reason is key.
The next step in the evolution of PropTech is undoubtedly based on collaboration. As a global PropTech leader, the UK has a unique opportunity to transform the way properties are bought and sold. However, the property sector as it stands isn't joined up enough. I think the next journey for the industry, in Braveheart terms, is to ‘unite the clans’ so to speak - joining more technology, information and people together so that it becomes efficient, easy to implement and easy to use an all-round more exciting proposition for agents.
The industry needs to work together better than it has done in the past if the acceleration of change is to continue against the 2021 benchmark. The amount of time spent chasing each other, delays in the process and disjointed communication - that a digital journey could do all on its own - is frustrating for all involved.
What we're doing with iamproperty movebutler is ensuring that all parties are connected, and that as much information as possible is included in the early stages of the process, from both the vendors and buyers, including material information and linking up conveyancing and mortgages to ensure that transaction times can be as short as is possible for everyone involved. This gives agents more time to focus on growing their business and delighting customers.
By focussing on the customer as human beings with emotions, wants and needs, and then applying technology to make every touchpoint enhance their experience, proptech innovation can play a key role in the creation of an intelligent, human-led property ‘metaverse’.
To hear more property industry insights from the team at iamproperty, read the latest issue of Tech of a Life here.
*Kristian Stott is Head of New Business at iamproperty