Prop Tech

The technological challenges Estate Agents face

Ed Mead
Written by Ed Mead

80% of Estate Agents are small, often single office companies with a middle aged or older proprietor. Often real experts in the property market they work in but now facing an ever-increasing barrage of not only red tape but also technical offerings that may, or may not, help them face the threats new technology brings.

Many agents out there put themselves at a disadvantage by not having any idea of how the technical aspects of their business actually run and can often be significantly improved, let alone know what to do if it all goes wrong.

Many worthy tech companies hamstring themselves by not talking to agents before they try and sell their big idea, but the reverse works too.

With so many challenges to the estate agency sector, how does one work out what’s for you and what isn’t?

The issue is exacerbated by the fact that the vast majority of agents are small companies and the average age of owners is, well, old enough to not know what a CTO is, let alone what they do.

Big companies, especially commercial ones, have cottoned on and now employ chief technical officers as a matter of course, giving them an edge in choosing the right direction to go down. They are often some of the busiest employees within these companies and whilst they may give the appearance of being alchemists many I’ve spoken to still struggle to separate fact from fiction.

The same is true of finance and insurance companies – many of whom want to be ready for whatever is coming down the line and they also suffer from having the letters tech attached to their industry.

I’ve talked before elsewhere about cooperation, and despite estate agents having a well trodden path of studiously ignoring the benefits – think OTM, there’s surely significant value in smaller agents working together to get technical advice.

I know some do and have come across such co-operation in the Taunton area, central London, at The London Office and the Guild – there must be many more who could get together, indeed perhaps and OTM portal seeking to supercharge itself would be a good starting point.

Taking advice from someone who understands how changes will interact with existing software, benefit future expansion/ changes and save money/ enable expansion will yield huge benefits even in the short term. Sadly, it doesn’t look as if there’s going to be a universal translator anytime soon to help.

Co-operation amongst local competitors is a rare thing in our industry but perhaps the idea of taking a punt together and spreading the risk might actually make some pick up the phone. Not quite sure to whom yet, but that’s for another day.

About the author

Ed Mead

Ed Mead

ED Mead has worked in the Central London estate agency market for almost 40 years and has acquired a reputation for saying it as it is. He's contributed over many years as The Sunday Times Property Expert and as Agent Provocateur in The Telegraph, amongst many others, as well as fronting two BBC TV series and contributing regularly to a live Q&A slot on LBC.

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