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Property Natter - Prime suspects in a same-day delivery world

Proptech – it’s a people thing.

It might seem like a strange thing to say but the best of tech is a ‘people thing’.

Now why would I say that?


Well, for two principal reasons:

  1. Good tech allows us humans to automate systems that will take the drudge out of the day job so we can spend more time giving clients the personal attention they deserve.
  2. The customer service company that is frequently rated highest is Amazon where, paradoxically, customer service is entirely automated.

Weird, isn’t it?

I was reminded of this by another feature in this very edition of Estate Agent Today by iamproperty co-founder, Ben Ridgway.

In his piece, ‘What do buyers and sellers really want from their estate agent’, he makes the point that client expectations continue to rise and they expect an experience that aligns both in-person and digitally.

In other words, they enjoy the instant answer that technology offers but also value the guidance and empathy that comes with the human touch.

A point well made, Ben.

The family home is probably the single most expensive item that most of us will ever buy but it’s not just a prize asset for individuals. Globally, according to Savills, the real estate market was worth $326.5 trillion in 2020 – more than all the stocks and shares, more than debt securities, more than gold. All of it.

Exciting developments

That’s why buying and selling houses is so important to clients. That’s why we need the belt and braces approach – the best technology, the best people.

The property sector in the UK may have been a little slow in coming to the proptech party but we’re making up for it now, judging by the amount of technology-related press releases that flood our inboxes here.

Take Monday morning, for instance – we had:

  • An invitation to an event called Powering The Proptech Centre With Embedded Finance hosted by Lettspay at Canary Wharf;
  • The creation of a London pop-up bringing AI leaders together by Mercantix AI and Huckletree;
  • The launch of a decision-making engine called Optimo by Finova – the mortgages and savings software provider;
  • A story from the House Buyer Bureau extrapolated from Government figures estimating that there is £212bn worth of empty homes across England – that certainly relied on technology to crunch the numbers.

All of these arrived within 60 minutes of each other. And it’s not as though Monday was by any means unusual. The amount of proptech activity these days is, frankly, staggering – and it’s growing.

According to Unissu there are over 400 companies focussed on the residential sector and 21.8% of these are working to solve inefficiencies in the selling process. Because we now have more people renting, 21.35% of companies are trying to improve those rental journeys. Just over 22% of firms are looking out for buyers and 26.9% concentrate on property management.

There are exciting developments but there has got to be more to come – 99% of residential property transactions occur offline, still. That’s why it take so long!

The buzz term of the moment is, of course, AI which is developing faster than I can type. The possibilities are limitless and successful businesses will embrace the change and continue to invest in it because products are improving all the time.

Last year the global proptech sector was worth USD 30.6bn, according to Precedence Research. It is forecast to be worth USD 133.05bn by 2032.

Digitalisation has dawned on the Land Registry and the entire conveyancing system is evolving, too.

When I started off in this business 35 years ago – developing an estate agency and a mortgage business – the rate of change was painfully slow and innovations which are commonplace today were the stuff of dreams.

Technology has made the evolution possible and now the clients expect it because we live in a ‘same-day delivery’ world. When Generation Z become the lion’s share of our customer base, they will expect better, faster service still. Otherwise Amazon might just start selling houses giving a whole new meaning to the ‘Prime’ market.

But it’s a people thing. Let’s keep it that way.

Until next time…

If you have something you’d like to Natter about, please get in touch

Email: press@estateagenttoday.co.uk


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