Is automation the future of the Estate Agent?

An estate agent’s role is to sell property… or is it? While traditionally an estate agent’s primary role is to help sellers identify the right buyers for their homes, an important question we should be asking right now is: ‘exactly how much time does an estate agent spend on direct selling activities?’ As the purchase process has become increasingly complex, the traditional role of the estate agent is now more focussed on hand-holding existing buyers through the complicated and fragmented legal process, (Savills claim up to 70% of their negotiator’s time is spent on this) and it’s no surprise that this isn’t helping the growth and efficiency of the industry.

The Changing Role of the Estate Agent

Buying a property can be a complex and drawn out process and it is a process that undoubtedly has its flaws. Most notably, there are multiple stages that combine to form the buying process and each stage is typically overseen by a different professional. From estate agents to mortgage advisors to surveyors to solicitors; it’s a very fragmented and disjointed process filled with industry jargon that can be challenging for buyers to navigate. This is especially true for first-time buyers, who will not have been through this process before. The role of the estate agent is changing from a sales-based role to more of a caretaker role. Estate agents are taking responsibility for guiding buyers from one stage to the next and acting as a single point of contact for those working across all stages of the process. It’s no surprise that this naturally results in less time available for generating new leads and actively selling.

A potential solution to this problem is proptech; more specifically, automated tools available within the proptech industry. Automation holds the potential to take over many of these caretaking duties; duties which have a great deal of predictability. This could leave estate agents with more time for alternative activities — namely sales — which are generally more unpredictable and require human management. What exactly this automation involves will vary, however, it is anticipated that the following will be prominent in the future of estate Communication

Scheduled emails and automated follow-ups/responses are expected to be implemented across many agencies, to remove the need for manual chasing for information. In terms of marketing to new clients, scheduled social media posts can be organised for publication at times of day when they will be most visible to prospective buyers/sellers, and automated segmentation will be used to tailor communications by group.

Property Matching

Automated property matching can remove the slow and initial stages of the buyer registration process. Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be used to ‘learn’ about buyers from their online behaviours and actions, enabling estate agents to easily identify and present to them the most attractive options. This can increase the chances of finding a ‘match’ and improve overall client retention rates.

Process Guidance

Automated tracking of communications and status updates — fully accessible to buyers — will minimise the existing heavy reliance of buyers on their estate agents through the later stages of the buying process. The possibility of direct access to important information can ‘cut out the middleman’, with the potential to make the property buying process not only quicker but also more efficient and less complex.

Looking to the Future

Here at Yourkeys, we’re pioneering the automated progression of sales. Using our ‘operations hub’, agents, developers, buyers and conveyancers can effectively communicate, with the platform notifying the user who is responsible for the next piece of the puzzle. This gives every stakeholder complete oversight and transparency of the entire process from offer to completion.  This relieves buyers of the stress and anxiety of the unknown, stops multiple parties chasing conveyancers and uses automation to progress each sale in a timely manner.

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