How can PropTech help letting agents in 2018?
Over the last few years, you’re likely to have heard the phrase ‘PropTech’ on an increasingly regular basis. And as technology starts to play a more integral role in property transactions for tenants and landlords, it’s important that you’re aware of the PropTech movement and how it could help you to provide a more streamlined and efficient service.
What is PropTech?
PropTech is the umbrella name given to the businesses offering technology solutions and products for the property sector.
The ethos behind PropTech is to provide technological solutions for long-standing problems and to utilise tech in order to make the process of buying, renting, selling, letting or managing a property quicker and easier for consumers.
How is PropTech helping letting agents?
There are now hundreds of companies which call themselves providers of PropTech services and some of the solutions we outline below have become industry standards which are adopted by the vast majority of letting agents.
At a time when people's lives have become more transient and hectic, the virtual viewings industry has really started to take off. Virtual viewings allow a prospective tenant (or buyer) to see a property from a device without having to actually visit it.
The concept has been particularly successful with overseas tenants looking at potential homes before moving over to the UK.
It also presents a good way for busy tenants to view a number of properties and discount the unsuitable ones before making a physical visit to a smaller shortlist of desirable homes. Virtual viewings are also popular with landlords who own properties in different areas of the country as a means of carrying out mid-term inspections.
Of course, a virtual viewing will never replace the benefits of seeing a property in person, but they do provide tech-savvy landlords and tenants with a handy way of seeing a property at a glance instead of visiting in person.
Consumers are well versed in using live chat services when purchasing goods online and this concept has moved successfully into the world of property. Live chat can help you to vet enquiries from website visitors while providing a great first point of online contact for prospective or existing customers.
Modern consumers are less likely to pick up the phone and so having an option to receive answers to simple questions instantly through live chat is often their initial contact method of choice. Live chat can also help you to capture all-important contact details of people visiting your website.
Tenants reporting repairs to letting agents and landlords was traditionally an elongated and often frustrating process. However, the advent of various repairs reporting apps and tech solutions has helped to make the process much easier and more efficient for both sides of the rental transaction.
These apps allow tenants to report problems out of hours and also often provide them with the means to pinpoint the problem more succinctly than if explaining over the phone. They have also been particularly popular for overseas tenants, who can report repairs requests in their own language.
Repairs reporting technology can save you time and allow you to service your tenants out of hours. In many cases, it also gives you a much clearer picture of exactly what the problem is and allows you to link up with contractors and suppliers instantly.
Instant online valuations
For landlords thinking about letting their properties, there's nothing more useful than a full market appraisal from an experienced local letting agent. PropTech has, however, facilitated a way for you to speak to more prospective landlords through instant online valuations.
These tools – which give a prospective landlord an idea of how much they could earn each month by letting their property – can provide you with the perfect opportunity to capture a prospective client's contact details and then follow up and offer a full market appraisal.
If you don't have tools which capture the contact details of people visiting your website, you could be missing out on potential business, business which could be going to your competitors.
An expert view
One of the industry's best-known PropTech influencers, and the founder of the Digital Marketing Bureau, James Dearsley explains to us how PropTech could help letting agents in 2018.
"2018 will be another year of shifting goalposts. The ban on upfront letting agent fees charged to tenants should be seen as the first intervention from the Government and opportunities in PropTech are the opportunities to counter those threats."
"With the recent Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Call for Evidence, there is an obvious Government level reflection on how technology will impact both sales and lettings and so next year should be the year you look to new software platforms and other endogenous technologies to improve your workflows and drive down general operating costs."