The Latest Tech Trends Innovating the Estate Agency Industry

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In 2020, many sectors have accelerated their take-up of technologies that enable workers to work remotely. The estate agency industry in particular holds a lot of potential when it comes to the introduction of new tools. Here, we’re covering the latest tech trends affecting estate agency businesses.

Property tech, or proptech for short, was already a talking point before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s now an even bigger subject in the estate agency industry. Professionals are increasingly turning to exciting digital tools and developing new practices to maximise efficiency and drive sales. 

Online estate agency businesses have long been popular in the UK, with sites like Rightmove and Zoopla leading the charge in the sector’s digitalisation. According to experts, around 80 percent of property buyers turn to the internet to find their dream home. And, unsurprisingly, online property searches rose by 167 percent in some areas during 2020 (Rightmove). 

The 8 tech trends shaping the real estate industry 

1. Automated valuation 

Valuing a property can involve complicated calculations and formulas, but automated valuation tools can save time by providing a rough figure taking several factors into account. Although these products can’t yet reach the accuracy of a valuation professional visiting the space in person, they’re a useful time-saving tool - and they’re improving every day. 

2. Targeted adverts 

While estate agencies might previously have waited patiently for potential buyers to peer through their window at property adverts, technology now provides the opportunity to target promising audiences online. 

Businesses in the real estate sector can use online marketing to promote their brand and properties among the right people. For instance, an agency might choose to show parents an advert featuring local semi-detached homes near good schools.

3. Virtual viewings

Next, one of the most recognisable changes in recent months: virtual viewings. Like many of the other tech trends in the real estate industry, online property tours have rapidly become more widespread during the pandemic. However, it’s likely they’re here to stay, as they give potential buyers the chance to gain a better feel for the property without having to make the journey there in person. 

The term ‘virtual viewings’ covers a wide range of different features, from basic image stitching and panoramas to high-tech virtual reality (VR) tours. Often, property adverts include pre-recorded video walk-throughs, but estate agents are increasingly organising video meetings with property owners and potential buyers to provide a live tour of the building. 

4. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into most business sectors, and real estate has benefitted from the technology in its own way. Sites are increasingly able to single out relevant properties based on a viewer’s personal attributes and preferences. Meanwhile, chatbots are helping people find answers to their questions without consulting an estate agency employee. 

What’s more, AI is being harnessed to gain insight into future trends. Technology can scan past activity, data and market indicators to help estate agencies stay ahead of the curve, providing insight on customer behaviour and buying habits, for instance. 

5. Virtual and augmented reality

VR and augmented reality (AR) have supported real estate business growth in unexpected ways. To name just one new trend, software companies are helping to prepare properties for online viewings. 

Agents can now enhance photos by digitally adding furniture and furnishings. Effectively ‘staging’ a property can be an expensive and time-consuming process for buyers who will soon move on anyway. But using online tools to give viewers a sense of a building’s scale and potential is an efficient way to prepare a property for sale. 

What’s more, estate agencies advertising new builds still in construction can also benefit from VR material. Accurate stitched images, panoramas and walk-throughs are incredibly helpful when viewers need to visualise a property and its surroundings. 

6. Drones

Drones are one of the most popular tech trends to emerge generally in the past few years - but they can provide real value in the real estate sector. Agents can use them to capture aerial footage of a property and give viewers an understanding of the scale of the building and nearby areas. 

Interestingly, photographs and videos captured by drones can even highlight potential issues with a building, giving buyers useful evidence when it comes to negotiating the price. 

7. Online portals

Property transactions previously required a lot of paperwork, with those involved making countless trips to the estate agent, printing, signing and sending documents, and checking progress with a phone call. Thanks to technology, the process is now much simpler. 

In recent years, estate agency businesses have been able to use online portals to store information and track the progression of property sales and purchases. All the relevant parties can log into their secure space and quickly see the steps they need to take. 

8. Data collection

With so many new tech trends emerging across the real estate sector, more and more businesses are able to gather information to inform their decisions. Smart software and cloud-based programmes can collect useful insights on customer behaviour and property advert performance, which helps agencies boost their efficiency as time goes on. 

Data collection also has the power to transform the property buying process too, as Bernard Marr explains: 

“In the future, homebuyers may be able to download a comprehensive history of a home’s maintenance and upkeep through its smart devices connected to the electrical, [heating, ventilation and air conditioning], and plumbing. No more guessing or paying for costly inspections to understand the condition of a house.”  
—Bernard Marr, author, speaker and advisor

Running your own business in the real estate industry

With extensive brand reach, proven formulas and plenty of business support, estate agency franchises can offer an attractive opportunity for investors and savvy entrepreneurs. Their take-up of tech trends will only serve to increase their productivity and profitability as time goes on. 

For more information, take a look at the top seven real estate agency trends shaping the industry, or find out how you can run an estate agency franchise from home. Alternatively, why not read about starting your own online mortgage business

To kick-start your investment journey in the real estate sector, browse the estate agency franchises looking for new franchisees at the moment.

>> Read more articles on the Estate Agent & Property sector

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