​PropTech 2015 Altitude 360 at Millbank Tower, London

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On Wednesday the inaugural PropTech event was hosted at Altitude 360 at the Millbank Tower in London. It was a gathering of online estate agents, traditional estate agents, start-ups, investors and a smattering of the good people from the press – trade rather than mainstream.

What is PropTech?

To cut a long story short, it’s all about technology in the property industry and making things better for the customer. The word that kept being mentioned was transparency and that is something that we are very keen on. Opening up this industry that for too long has been cloak and dagger, doubt and confusion. Technology is allowing us to move faster and in the words of Scott Sinclair from Google who was speaking at the event:

“Use technology to provide a better customer experience”

Scott Sinclair, Google

This is something we have worked incredibly hard at, looking at our processes and making them as smooth as possible to deliver for our customers and for the buyers of our clients’ properties.

Transparency or the lack thereof is where most complaints stem from. Technology is improving transparency. From memory I cannot think of any complaints about online estate agents.

John Baguley, Ombudsman Services

These were words to our ears as we know nobody has complained about our service and we believe that communication and transparency can remove complaints. Empowering customers and providing them with instant access to what is happening with their property is key to our proposition.

Sean Hooker from the Property Redress Scheme clearly agrees with us:

With online… …the consumer is in control of the process

Sean Hooker, Property Redress Scheme

There was a panel debate between two of the biggest players in the online space and also Alex Bailes the Chief Digital Officer at Countrywide and Chris Wood of PDQ Estates (one of the best small agencies in the country). It was revealing that all were in agreement that change is coming and the online model will be taking over a large chunk of the estate agent industry. Chris Wood, a staunch defender of the high street proposition admitted that:

“30% of high street estate agents shouldn’t be in business. They let down our industry and tarnish our reputations. They should be shut down.”

Chris Wood, PDQ Estates

Predictions range from 50% to 70% of properties will be instructed to online agents by 2020 – that’s only five years away. We absolutely love being one of the drivers of this change but the one key factor that wasn’t mentioned enough by those under the spotlight:

Customer service and delivering on behalf of clients is the be all and end all of our industry.

It is why we are so proud of our 99.3% of asking price achieved (vs 96% on the High Street) and our nomination for Best Customer Service at the Estate Agency of the Year Awards. That isn’t best customer service for just online agents but for all agents. In simple terms, we are consistently outperforming the high street on both price achieved and our service levels.

It is a sign of the incredible culture in our offices and the whole team deserve an enormous amount of thanks from the Directors of the business. They are the heroes of what we are doing and the heroes of our industry. Changing the face of estate agency is no small feat but with technology, the right people and the right culture we are armed and ready for the fight.

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