Though the real estate industry has been building on the momentum of technological advances for some time now, the pandemic and subsequent shift to virtual working has accelerated the demand and need for technology in the industry. Real estate agencies have been massively impacted by the events of the last 18 months, as the world shifted to the new norm of online working, organisations have had to adjust operations to meet rising demand for digital content, virtual meetings, and crucially online transactions.
The last months have been quite uncertain for the market. At first experts predicted a decrease in residential sales transactions due to household incomes impacted by lockdown restrictions, but with the introduction of the Stamp Duty holiday and other financial aids from the government the market has in fact experienced its busiest period since the housing boom of the early 2000’s (peaking in 2006/07) and sales transaction volumes have exceeded pre-pandemic sales transaction volumes, seasonally adjusted number of UK residential transactions reached record highs in March 2021, estimated to be 183,170.
The pressure on estate agents is now higher than ever as clients expect access round the clock, whether it’s submitting offers, carrying out virtual viewings, browsing property listings, filing documents, or finalising payments. Customers want to feel supported throughout the process and need to trust their data is being handled securely. Luckily though this doesn’t mean agents need to work all hours of the day as there are reliable automation tools, such as virtual viewings, sales progression tools, e-signing software or self-service portals that agents can adopt to facilitate the administrative tasks without manual oversight. But don’t expect to see computers taking agents jobs any time soon - the role of the agent as the conductor is still a key element in real estate transactions, these new tools and technologies are designed to help free-up time so agents can provide the human support at a high level while the automated systems do the heavy work of efficiently processing customer data and legal documents to push transactions over the finish line.
Philip Farrell, CCO and Co-Founder of Offr, a Proptech start-up, notes, “Agents need to work on the move and have the processes in place to do so.”
Though robots won’t be running estate agencies anytime soon, the future of estate agencies is likely to change quite significantly in the long-term. There will no longer be such a demand for large high street premises, particularly considering the excessive costs in rent, bills and maintenance. Though many agents will continue to have a presence on the high street, this will be at a smaller capacity, acting as a large billboard to advertise themselves and their properties. There will be a shift to the ‘on-the-go agent’ to enable the rising proportion of sales completed remotely and online.
The outlook for the next few months is still a bit unclear, but one thing is certain – things aren’t slowing down anytime soon. With a large undersupply of housing in the UK it is unlikely to see prices fall over the next 12 months. The future success of estate agencies is dependent on their ability to adapt to evolving markets and embed the cutting-edge technologies and digitised systems to facilitate faster, more transparent, and trustworthy transactions, to ease the stress and uncertainty on both ends of the buying and selling process.
To help navigate the new digital real estate market, Offr has created a button to sit directly on your site and facilitate all your buyers and sellers’ needs. From placing live bids, booking viewings, processing legal documents or digitally signing contracts, Offr have the go-to solution for agents on the go.
Book a demo today to see first-hand how Offr can help you transform how you do business and win over clients with a seamless digital experience.