We live in a world fuelled by the ever-increasing prominence of technology and the internet, and refusing to acknowledge and embrace it will ultimately damage the estate agency industry. At SellMyHome.co.uk we realise the importance and influence of technology and are constantly looking for different ways to harness innovation in order to provide a better service.
Going online seems to be the next logical step for modern estate agency, after all, property accounts for a huge amount of web traffic. Rightmove receive over a billion page views a month, and 98% of people choose to use online portals to find their next home. Despite the cold, hard facts traditional estate agents are still digging their loafer'd heels in and it's hitting their customers in the pocket.
In January, Agents Mutual set up OnTheMarket, a new portal intended to provide competition to Zoopla and Rightmove. Thousands of traditional estate agents have joined the group, but members are only able to market their properties via OnTheMarket and either Zoopla or Rightmove – not both – in an attempt to thwart the success of the other portals. Whilst this benefits traditional agents by raising the profile of OnTheMarket, it limits the visibility of the property for sale by cutting the volume of potential buyers that can see it. This decision was nothing to do with embracing technology to help customers. Their needs were secondary to the vested interests of these traditional agents, still eager to swell their chubby coffers. In an ideal world, buyers would only have to look at one portal rather than all three. Vendors definitely want their property to be in front of as many eyes as possible so OnTheMarket is failing in every regard to help consumers. It is nothing more than one last ditch attempt to try and disrupt the market to cover their own backs but the only result is a worse service for both buyers and vendors.
The new generation of online estate agents on the other hand are swiftly recognising how powerful technology is and time and time again we've seen first-hand how it can assist our customers; by speeding up and easing the sales process or by fetching a higher price for a vendor's property.
In March we held the first virtual open house on Facebook, using state of the art technology fromVirtual Walkthrough to deliver a 360 degree journey through a two bedroom flat in Hackney, London. The technology gives buyers the opportunity to take a beautiful tour through the property, in crystal clear high-definition, before going to see it in person should they wish to. The technology is convenient for both buyer and seller; gone are the days when home owners have to negotiate their time around others, whilst potential buyers are no longer required to traipse through someone else's home alongside rival bidders. This technology streamlines the whole viewing process without even having to leave your sofa. Its not only the future, but as we learnt it is very much the present too.
The aforementioned virtual open house resulted in the Hackney property being sold for £10,000 over the asking price – £42,000 higher than that of an identical flat sold in the same block a month before, facilitated of course by a high street agent using traditional marketing methods. Taking into account their lofty fees, the modern methods we utilised not only streamlined the process, making it easier for all concerned, but our vendor gained over £51,000 by using the virtual walkthrough functionality and by listing their property with SellMyHome.co.uk.
Technological advancements have allowed us to move estate agency online. Rightmove and Zoopla have given us the keys to the online kingdom by making life easier for buyers, now all we have to do as an industry is make sure we utilise the tools at our disposal. We need to make sure the systems are in place for the vendor and the marry these excellent services already established for the buyer. Traditional agents need to adapt and need to be openminded about these new technologies rather than defer to their default setting of suspicion.
In the digital age in which we live, we are ordering taxis through apps and booking our holidays in an instant - almost every other industry has embraced technology by taking their businesses online. Greater efficiency and at a lesser cost; the customer's needs are paramount. It's time for traditional estate agents to follow in everyone else's footsteps, because there is #AnotherWay.
We will be running regular virtual open houses on the SellMyHome.co.uk Facebook Page, so make sure you LIKE us here: facebook.com/Sellmyhome.co.uk