The future of Estate Agency
Right now, thousands of extremely clever people backed by billions of pounds of often expert investment are working very hard to change the way property is bought, sold, rented, used and operated. It would be surprising, to say the least, if this burst of activity does not lead to some significant change. In some markets, and for some companies, it already has. No doubt many of these companies and ideas will fail and a lot of money will be lost, but there will be some very successful survivors who will in time have a radical impact on what has traditionally (not only in the UK) been a slow-moving, conservative industry. How, and where, will this happen?
I believe that using tech in property for the sake of using tech is doomed to fail. Property, that being personal and professional accommodation, plays such a huge part in almost every person’s life in the world that the people within the industry will always have a major role to play.
For me, PropTech isn’t about replacing people in property, it’s about enabling and improving these people to get better at their jobs.
Real estate is not known as an industry which readily embraces change. We can look at the reasons why behind this from two sides. Firstly, buying or selling a house is a big deal for anyone who ever does it. It does make a degree of sense that people would follow the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy. Secondly, the professional advisors (agents) that dominate the space clearly have an interest in protecting their income sources, as do mortgage brokers, property surveyors, and conveyancing solicitors. It’s not unreasonable to expect these professions might all be expected to resist tech-driven innovations designed to ‘disrupt’ their work.
But what if PropTech could be constructive, not disruptive…
What if PropTech was leveraged to help estate agents, not disintermediate them. What if PropTech was used to help mortgage brokers, surveyors and solicitors get better at their jobs, to increase their expertise, to equip them with the right tools to help get a deal done for their clients faster.
Rather than focusing on taking a share of the billions in fees available through property transactions each year, PropTech needs to take a look at the people who really matter in the whole process. The end users. The buyers and the sellers. These are people who are putting their finances (and the literal roofs over their heads) on the line when they decide (sometimes it’s not even their decision) to move.
Shouldn’t PropTech want to help the professionals charged with helping these people!?
FinTech innovates to help its professionals understand trends to better advise their clients and yet (for the most part) PropTech only aims to destroy the people who service the industry.
Imagine, rather than putting these people out of work, we made them better. Imagine if every new starter in any estate agency across the UK could be an expert expert on day one. Or every property was able to be valued accurately, quickening the sales process.
That is the kind of power PropTech offers, we just need to harness it the right way.