Technology is crucial to the survival of the estate agent. The extraordinary pace of technological advancements that have been seen over the last ten years has transformed the way businesses and consumers live and work. However, estate agents are only just waking up to the fact that it can do more than just speed up processes.
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The adoption of technology puts estate agents in a unique position to offer clients the best of both worlds – the opportunity to meet consumer expectations, while simultaneously managing their businesses better. However, the implementation of technology has historically been met with resistance from traditional estate agents. Many believe technology implementation is more disruptive than innovative, and that technology advancements offer much more benefit to the buyer than the agent. This is not the case. Technology has the advantage of delivering significant opportunities to streamline and adapt to market changes and can offer estate agency the same sort of digital transformation benefits being seen in other industries.
Cloud applications have made it quicker and easier to adopt technology, and it has started a movement away from using high-cost, on-premise, bespoke systems. Many of the legacy systems still used by estate agents were designed at a time when technology wasn’t developed in a unified way, and multiple formats were difficult to integrate with other applications. This made technology deployments quickly outdated, as new functions and processes took considerable time to install rather being easily bolted-on.
Times have changed. Technology is now being developed with the needs of the estate agent truly at the front of mind of developers. One of the technologies that are truly underpinning the Agent of the Future is the API. APIs can tie multiple functions and draw in complementary technologies into a single, cloud-based platform that gives agents a full view of their business. By connecting via the internet rather than via slow, cumbersome, on-premise cables, newer cloud-based systems offer agents real mobile working. It enables them to react faster and deliver a seamless service regardless of their location. APIs provide the flexibility to integrate legacy and new third-party software for a seamless user experience.
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What does that look like in practice?
Take the third party company who can quickly generate an end of tenancy check for a property and the report is seamlessly delivered into the agent’s software against the customer record. This is the digitally connected, API-enabled estate agent and proves how a third party can provide a service seamlessly into the agent via the API. The alternative – the inventory company completing a report, scanning it, emailing it to the agent who then has to attach it to a customer record – is the equivalent of the legacy infrastructure that is preventing bricks-and-mortar agents being more responsive. It’s another way to deliver an exceptional, seamless service.
Similarly, take the agent who can quickly schedule an appointment directly into the calendar of their recommended Financial Advisor for the buyer even when they are not co-located. They can log in and see how the meeting proceeded before giving their client a call back – impressive customer service. The power of the API-enabled estate agent connects the whole business together providing a seamless experience to the client. The alternative – the agent, sends an email referral to the financial advisor hoping they will call the customer back, has to chase the financial advisor for feedback and an update before they can proceed with their sale – is also a legacy issue.
Successful agents are increasingly looking to automate repetitive tasks to reduce the time and increase accuracy. From improving close rates to lost valuations and automated property match mail outs, agents are using the power of automation to get their time back to do what they do best – sell. Agents can work smarter, rather than harder by automating everyday workflows that would otherwise require human input by using the cloud.
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This is achieved through an open architecture, accessible via a full-spectrum API, coupled with an incredibly powerful, outward looking workflow system. Residing on the central premise of security and agility, future-proofed platforms sit at the heart of the business and connect existing and new systems. This enables estate agents to share data and have access to a single version of the analytical truth. Perhaps the most important point about these platforms is their responsiveness to business change while facilitating fluid services across both human and digital touchpoints.
The Agent of the Future is connected, and powered by APIs. Building a business on APIs gives an estate agent the freedom to hit all of their pain points at once, and use technology to enable a fully scalable and flexible business model. Estate agents must embrace technology to remain connected and relevant in an increasingly competitive market.
Technology is at the epicentre of digital transformation in the estate agency market. Those that make the best use of its possibilities will thrive, those that don’t will face an uphill battle to be successful.