There’s no doubt our industry has evolved. We’ve had to. With the digital landscape more prevalent than ever, many agents had to look far beyond the traditional window displays, print advertising and ‘for sale’ boards, in search of other, more engaging ways to maximise the exposure of the properties on their books.
The tech industry has given us a whole new toolkit to play with, and for those who have kept up with the latest trends, it’s opened a whole new world and dramatically changed the way we do business. From smart phones and touch screen displays, to the introduction of virtual reality, agents need to adapt to an ever-changing world if we want to stay on top of our game.
Take a look at some of the biggest tech changes which have shaken the estate and lettings industry…
Gone are the days where social media was purely to interact with friends and family. It’s become a brand engaging, social sharing, meme generating hub of all the things we love.
Nice interior? We do it for the ‘gram.
Pretty gardens? Tagged #nofilterneeded.
Emojis? We use them in every capacity possible.
As a nation, we’ve embraced social-sharing wholeheartedly and property agents have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
It’s not just about brand and product aesthetics on social either. Agents have had to adopt an ‘always on’ approach to ensure customers can interact at any opportunity. Customers can now send direct messages and instant messages, read word-of-mouth reviews and get in touch with an agent quickly through the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
On the flipside, with so much data available in the public domain it’s difficult for non-performing agents to fly under the radar. So many customers now prefer to voice their opinions online and this alone is enough to make any agent step up to the mark and ensure its positivity all-round.
The popularity of social media essentially means we must make sure our customers are always happy and that our brand reputation is protected.
Wander down the high street and you’re guaranteed to spot this innovative piece of technology which has started to pop up more and more, particularly in places like retail centres and certain restaurant chains. This fantastic piece of tech has recently broken into the property market and for good reason.
Customers may want access to estate agents 24/7, but unfortunately high street agents just aren’t able to match those hours. This is where touch screens have stepped in. Estate agents are now able to advertise their properties, services and other promotional messages even when they’re closed.
Aside from simply looking like a slick bit of kit, these screens are instantly inviting and attract attention from right across the street. It’s a great way for agents to be open even when they’re closed. As an example, last year over 64% of our touch screen interactions happened outside of working hours. Just imagine the viewing bookings and potential sales that could have been missed during that time?
As a nation we’re naturally pushed for time. And when it comes to orchestrating viewings of properties, it can become a stressful situation for time-poor people. With the influx of international students and people relocating to new areas, Facetime and Skype have transformed the viewing process for those not able to attend physical viewings.
Whilst photos and video footage can tell part of the story, a physical real-time walkthrough paints a full picture for the viewer without them needing to leave their desk/sofa/car. It also allows for interaction between the customer and the agent; vital for any business to secure a let or sale.
It’s not just Facetime and Skype that are stealing the show with viewings. VR and AR (virtual reality and augmented reality) might not have taken off fully yet but when they do… be prepared.
Full of untapped potential, VR and AR can really shake up the industry. Rightmove is already testing its VR platform which will allow customers to view homes without moving a muscle. There are some fantastic examples on the market and we really haven’t scratched the surface of what’s possible. With the number of new build developments on the way, this technology will really help boost off-plan sales and rentals by giving customers a full overview of space and spec before the build is even complete.
Augmented reality takes things one step further. This allows customers to view a property with or without furniture, move furniture around and even dabble in a spot of interior design. A bit like a ‘try before you buy’ scenario. Any customer who feels they can customise a space to suit their needs will be far more likely to go through with the sale or let. AR really will be an invaluable tool for estate and lettings agents.
Developers, house buyers, renters and agents… keep an eye out. This technology is a game changer.
While these big changes in technology can certainly improve an agent’s offering, it also means we must constantly have our finger on the pulse to keep up. As technology changes and new features are introduced, customer needs and behaviours are changing too. And for this, we need to ensure we’re ahead of the curve to meet and exceed client expectations.
The industry isn’t done with its transformation – we’ve not even touched the surface yet. What do you think the next big property technological advance will be?
Whatever it is, it’s safe to say the estate and lettings industry won’t ever be the same again. There are huge things to come.