While the majority of estate agents operate from the high street, there has been a growing trend in recent years for online/hybrid operators eager to disrupt the market and challenge the status quo.
We’ve also seen more cases of traditional agents offering elements of an online/hybrid model to compete in an increasingly digital-savvy, web-based marketplace.
The question is, then, what can agents do to complement their current offerings and expand on their position in the market?
For a number of years now, traditional high street agents have been offering more services online. For example, no agency worth its salt is now without a presence on the major portals, most place a great deal of importance on a glossy, attractive, user-friendly website, and posting regularly on social media (plus integrating social media feeds into websites) is no longer seen as a quirk but a must.
However, to compete with the growing online/hybrid market, are there further steps you could take to appeal to a client base that is more and more tech-savvy and online focused?
Virtual viewings or tours, for instance, are one example of a feature that has been embraced by a growing number of agents in recent years – allowing people to view homes on the move, from the comfort or their own home, on the commute or while sitting in a branch itself.
Other online features, such as client log-in areas for landlords, sellers, buyers and tenants, can also prove highly useful. For sellers, this allows them to track sale progress, share documents and contracts, view offers and track viewings – effectively offering real-time updates on how the sales process is going. For landlords, meanwhile, it’s a place where properties could be added, active and past tenancies can be viewed, inspections can be scheduled and inspection reports can be downloaded.
A tenant login area, on the other hand, would enable them to report maintenance problems, view their tenancy contract, make online payments and view when their next rental payment is due.
We know, too, that the majority of property searches now begin online. And, if portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla are not the first port of call, your website will be, which makes a property search facility with Google Maps integration and other search criteria features absolutely vital. This enables your clients to find, view and share property with ease. As well as offering a Google Street View (people, of course, like to know the area they might be living in), customisable searches, virtual tours, floorplans, a printable brochure and an “Email a Friend” facility are all other ways to enhance your property search tool.
With the smartphone revolution of recent years, it’s also vital that your website is fully optimised for mobile viewing on iPhone and Android devices. If it isn’t, you risk losing out on business to your competitors.
A reflection of the times
We now live in a very online, digital-centric world, so it’s no surprise that technology is playing an increasingly vital role in all aspects of life.
We’ve seen the huge growth of PropTech in recent years – with technology solutions to property problems – and the beginnings of the digitalisation of the mortgage sector, with HM Land Registry’s transformation of the conveyancing process.
To compete in an increasingly switched-on world, your business needs to keep up with the times. Property software plays a vital role in this. Choosing a cloud-based, interactive, all-in-one system – which enables you to manage all parts of your business with ease – will help you to compete in a tough, crowded marketplace.
Equally, an attractive, user-friendly website with various cutting edge features will also be a requirement. It will act as your virtual shop window and is likely to play a very important role in the success of your business.
At Gnomen we provide an ideal platform to enable you to offer more streamlined ways of working, giving you the chance (and flexibility) to overlap or shift your business model to compete with the hybrid/online model if this is required.
We provide software that allows you to keep on top of your call-backs, diary, valuations and instructions, as well as offering integrated office accounting and the means by which you can keep your customers informed at all times.
We also create websites that look beautiful and work beautifully, with client log-in areas, Google Maps integration and innovative designs all on offer to help your agency stand out from the crowd.
For more information about what we can do for you, please get in touch with us on 0208 123 9019 or book a free demo here.