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Technology: Threat or Competitive Edge for Property Professionals?

Neil Summers, Head of Sales (Moonstone and SuiteBox Africa) shares his insights on the current trends in property

 

On the face of it, rapid advances in technology appear to pose a certain threat to property professionals. After all, it was only as recently as the 1990’s that buyers and sellers were entirely reliant on agents to buy and sell properties. Today, research shows, 99% of millennials and 89% of baby boomers use the internet to search for properties to buy or rent.

However, brief analyses of just a few of the current technology trends reshaping the property market reveals that new technology is only a threat to those not open to harnessing its potential. Property professionals embracing technology find that it enables efficient processes, provides differentiation in a competitive market, allows for creative marketing and convenience-driven client engagement, while also offering solutions to other challenges such as increased costs, compliance and record-keeping requirements.

 

Current technology trends

The rise of property listing websites, the growing use of social media, as well as the increase in online estate agencies, have heightened property market competition, while also reducing revenues by driving lower commissions.

These latest technologies also create opportunities to significantly reduce costs while providing a personalised, convenience-driven service.

Many online agencies offer similar services as traditional agents, but without the overhead costs of renting or owning, furnishing and staffing premises. Operating only online, these agencies rely on local advisers to facilitate property visits or use technologies such as virtual reality and online video to allow potential buyers to virtually inspect a property from any location and at any time. Live-streaming enables property professionals to communicate via video with buyers and sellers in real time, show out-of-town buyers the neighbourhood or conduct a virtual open house. Popular apps like Facebook Live allow live-streaming videos to be broadcast on social media, further increasing reach.

In fact, virtual reality and online video generate excellent property marketing results. Almost 60% of buyers expect a video of a property they’re looking at online. Whether in the form of a virtual or 360-degree tour, potential buyers will stay up to 13 times longer to watch a video rather than flicking through photographs. The use of virtual reality also increases the number of physical visits to the property and to the area showcased by 30%.

 

Almost 60% of buyers expect a video of a property they’re looking at online.

Video meetings allow property professionals to connect with sellers, buyers and other professionals involved in a property transaction on a more personal level, while adding the all-important convenience factor by reducing the significant time, effort and document-processing involved.

For example, an online workspace technology such as SuiteBox allows agents, buyers and sellers to meet virtually via video, anywhere, anytime, enabling personal interactions while eliminating the costs, time and hassles of travelling and replacing impersonal exchanges such as email and telephone calls.

In addition, with digital identity certification, contracts and agreements such as mandates, offers, and counter-offers can be discussed, reviewed, signed and managed digitally during virtual sessions, creating an automatic record of the discussions for compliance purposes and the resolution of any future disputes. This technology also integrates with various CRMs. These integrations deliver quick, easy and simple processes that help eliminate the delays and frustrations in the property process and give proactive professionals a competitive edge.

 

The benefits of harnessing property technology

It is clear from these examples that technology can assist property professionals to drive customer engagement, enhance productivity, minimise costs and ensure workflow-embedded risk management and compliance.

‘Proptech’ solutions like SuiteBox provide professionals with viable and flexible alternatives to the more traditional ways of working. They provide an easy, effective way for property professionals to embrace and benefit from new technology now, rather than having change forced onto their businesses and their clients in the future. Link this to the substantial savings guaranteed by the implementation of such technologies and they have a compelling business case to do things differently.

Indeed, property professionals who embrace and use technology creatively to streamline, simplify and enhance property buying, selling and leasing will find that technological advances are not a threat, but rather an enabler adding even more value to the process – from the initial search to well after the sale has been concluded.

Neil Summers, Head of Sales – Moonstone and SuiteBox Africa www.suitebox.com