The property business is moving.
There’s so much chat in the property world about Proptech and with it a lot of angst as to what is future proof?
Agents who have scorned the online crowd have watched the likes of Purplebricks and Yopa move into their territory and seize market share. This hasn’t happened overnight but the online agency model was always going to take a little time to mature.
Anyone surprised by this must have entirely missed the rise of Rightmove and Zoopla or just chosen to ignore the power of the online platforms. The fact that these online agents still have a relatively small share of the UK market should be a concern as this is only going to increase.
So if you’re an agent now, what is ‘future proof’?
- People – people facing roles are future proof. All of the new online models and hybrid models make a big play on the people element of their business.
- Viewings – similar to above but it’s worth noting that people will want to do viewings at their own convenience and not just with vendors. Even this can be outsourced now through Ed Mead’s Viewber.
- Valuers/Marketing specialists (Local Knowledge) – Look at the current model and the online model, how difficult is it really to get a property online and organise the marketing? Not very, but somebody has to do it.
- New business development. Foxtons and Romans understood this a long time ago. People react to new business development and follow up calls. This is how you book valuations over your competitors. Stay in touch.
- Property Management – yes the likes of Fixflo have saved a massive amount of time and money by making the reporting process so much easier but no AI in the future can stop somebody having to organise the right person to call. Even if you outsource property management somebody has to manage the process, simply because most people have no idea what needs to be done when there’s a problem.
- Overseas clients. It stands to reason that if you have a Landlord or Client who resides overseas they are unlikely to do their own viewings/management.
- New Homes. The bigger developers tend to try and do this themselves but there’s hundreds of smaller players with houses to shift.
- Breathing. Breathing is still future proof.
This list is obviously not exhaustive as we’ve probably missed some things but the following is most definitely not future proof.
Not future proof.
- Big fees for having a shop. Unless you offer more than just a shop what else are you offering? See above – New Homes/International – fine.
- Staff to just do administration. There’s not a single thing right now that cannot be done by either the applicant (lettings) or the sales agent/valuer. It really isn’t difficult to input data and the software (provided what you have put in is correct) will produce all the paperwork you could ever need and more. You can also check your own errors, save yourself time, learn a new skill and make more profit all in one go.
- Suits. Suits are not future proof. Suits do not help you sell, do not win you instructions, do not open doors, do not know about the local area and do look bad unless you’ve spent a fortune. We wore suits to work. We liked them. We even had a black shoe policy. We now shudder at the thought of wearing them. If a person has a problem with a well informed professional just because they’re not wearing a suit it is their problem.
- Window cards. For obvious reasons. Digital screens are cheaper than some LED light pockets (good ones anyway). Why have a poor picture of a house in your window with some weak bullet points? In fact, just ditch everything that doesn’t look as good as the best agent on your high street. If you can’t even compete locally, you’re not going to survive the next few years or so.
What is really frightening though, or it is from the outside looking in, is how many estate agents and in turn their clients are just going along for the ride. What we mean by this is that other than the really big players, the people who are supposed to understand this business are not the innovators. Most estate agents have no idea how to properly market their client’s property and right now are being saved by the power of the portals and an ageing population.
It stands to reason the most valuable company in UK residential agency is an advertising platform. Just imagine if the portals decided to take an even bigger slice of each individual transaction? It’s probably not far away and let’s be honest, for a lot estate agents in the UK they do all the legwork.
So, future proof yourself by offering good knowledge, a proactive new business development set up, adoption of the very best marketing materials, fair fees, slimmed down admin and a genuine desire to do the very best job for your clients. Not just going round, taking some crappy pics, doing a poor write up, handing it over to the administrator and hoping to god someone enquires through one of the portals.