Prop Tech is changing the industry, lettings software will help you adapt.

There are a handful of debates that get thrown up on a weekly, daily basis for industry professionals who have strong opinions. The majority of these are based around technology which is advancing quickly in an aging sector.

Visit any industry site/forum such as Property Industry Eye and you will come across two talking points a lot. Firstly there is the great portal debate which focus’ mostly on Zoopla v OnTheMarket whilst the battle of online v offline agents causes major concern as changes to traditional methods get ripped up.

This argument isn’t only contested in the property industry, the internet has disrupted most sectors from the press and media to holidays and fashion.

Do online versions win in the end?

You don’t need to look very far to suggest so.

  • Apple took advantage of music piracy as they became the solution, selling albums half the price as an MP3 format compared to the CD as the cost to produce the physical version was taken away.
  • Amazon went from a cut-price book store to an e-tailer selling a range of things cheaper than you would find offline with free delivery bringing convenience for the customer.
  • uber are become the go-to taxi service in every city they have launched.
  • ASOS do fast fashion cheaper, better and quicker than their high-street competitors.

What makes the property industry different is that letting agents provide a service, not a product. Can that be successfully replicated online?

It is ridiculous to suggest that the 'high-street agents' are dead like easyProperty recently claimed, however Waterstones, Blockbusters and HMV didn't see their demise until it was too late whilst both mini cab and black cab drivers have protested against uber who are providing a high quality service for less, using technology to cut costs. These disruptions didn't happen over night but the impact was huge, this is why agents are wary of what is coming next following the success of the property portal. 

The fact this tranisition is being discussed in such depth and frequency proves that a tipping point is near (see video à from the Property Tech Conference).

Technology is constantly improving, the internet is part of everyday life for most, it only seems natural that properties are there too! The portals have become an essential marketing tool for agents and a great search engine for home hunters, agents already have websites too.

What can an online-only agent do differently?

They do it cheaper. The great thing about the internet is that it opens up opportunities for anybody to do anything as overheads are minimised, but is that really a good thing? Can somebody who creates a blog call themselves a journalist when journalists spend years in training? Does selling clothes on an e-store rival you to those established in city centres?

The internet is the land of the free but that can bring a lawless environment.

An online-only agent might be able to provide a cheaper service for all parties involved as their overheads are small compared to the offline agents but can they deliver a good service with local knowledge and work in the best interest for the client? If you are price-sensitive then it might sound appealing but the results might not always be so good. It is all about providing value-for-money.

Like most things, it is inevitable that at some point the property industry will be an online industry as the generations who have grown up with the internet become influential but until then, for system to become totally viable the best option is the hybrid solution where online and offline agents come together and offer the best of both.

Benefits of Offline Agents:

  • Established
  • Knowledge of the local area
  • Face-to-face
  • Trusted and regulated
  • Experienced
  • Well connected
Benefits of Online Agents:
  • Open 24/7
  • Low Fees
  • Accessible
  • Quick and Easy to market your property
  • Forward thinking
  • User-friendly
  • Update listings, arrange viewings on website or app
 The high-street agents are concerned that they will be replaced by those online, however by adapting to the new way of working they will remain relevant now and in the future. The experience and knowledge they have gained from being a high-street agent will set you apart from start-ups new to the industry.

There is only one thing holding them back, traditional mentalities and refusing to change.

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