Your AI powered estate agent will see you now. Not a week goes by without another proptech company contacting my agency to pitch a slick, time and money saving solution I didn’t know I needed. Some are genuinely useful: they pull together market research and statistics, help with reach and distribution, or speed up the matchmaking between the properties on my books, and the registered clients.
Much of the property technology makes it easier for me to do my estate agency job and facilitates the process for buyers and sellers too. It’s hard to disagree that the house searching process has improved since the launch of Rightmove and Zoopla in 2000s. They have brought the joys of armchair house hunting and turned us all into fully fledged property experts. You can start your home search with little commitment and on your own time.
You will have access to some comparable, time on the market, and all key features of your potential dream home. A few more clicks, and yet another tech platform would give you a good idea of the other desirables of the new neighbourhood you might want to consider: local schools, air quality, socio-economic profiles of its residents or crime levels. You would probably then visit a few properties with the help of virtual reality. It was an absolute must have during the Covid times and the 3D tours are here to stay.
All this property data, pulled together by technology is indeed very good, but it rarely eliminates the need for a live inspection. It’s advisable to visit the property a few times at different times of the day. While the platforms might flag up a busy road junction, or a flight path nearby, it would fail to mention a neighbour’s daughter who had just took up trombone lessons. Virtual reality tours can be a potential nuisance for homeowners as their property data ends up being owned by a third-party company contracted to digitise a flat or a house. 3D tours can also unintentionally reveal a lot about the homeowners’ lifestyle, or the location of their alarm system.
Rightmove and Zoopla are very good to attracting eyeballs, but it only translates to viewings, and offers up to a certain price point; as house prices ballooned during the pandemic, at the higher end of the market more and more properties were sold quietly, off-market, never to be advertised publicly. Technology applied to speed up the notoriously slow sales process can only be a good thing.
I look forward to seeing more transactions using smart contracts powered by Blockchain. Think of Blockchain as a tool to visualise the status of a property, with full access to its history, surveys, transactions, and repairs, all recorded in one place, and accessible by all involved parties instantly. Using Blockchain technology each party can see a current view of a transaction, any historical actions and those that still need to take place.
The sale process is expedited, saving time and reducing costs. Using digital currencies to buy properties is still rare in UK, but my bet is it will become more normal soon as there is plenty of demand. As a step towards this brave new world, I recently learnt of reputable UK solicitor firm who can verify the origin of your digital currencies, and will help you settle with the vendor without the need to cash in the virtual holdings.
I long to see more government regulation in this virtual currency space, as it will increase trust and transparency in the crypto markets. Technology abounds, but there is still a role for human agents for the time being