How is property software and prop tech changing the shape of the property industry? Below we’ve taken a translation of our Managing Director, Peter Grant’s recent interview with Property TV, Sky Channel 238.
The opening question to Peter was…
I imagine if you’re working in the property industry communication with your clients is very important, has software had any particular impact in the way that property agents are communicating?
You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head and in actual fact in the industry it’s probably one of the biggest driving forces at the moment. We’re seeing the rise of online agents and the reason that these companies exist is because of the way they communicate with people. They provide 24/7 data on demand which is a very convenient way of actually selling or letting property and it’s something that high street agents are now very much focusing on, to try and offer the same levels of service that an online agent has but also with the high street presence and probably a bit more local knowledge, so yes it’s very important and technology is driving that through client portals and online access to information.
Peter was then asked…
When it comes down directly to marketing yourself in the property industry, what role does virtual reality, portals and social media play and how can software help agents go about marketing themselves?
It’s a bit of a moving target as all things with technology, one minute you think you’re right on top of the game with communications and marketing and then five minutes later it’s completely different. Most agents are probably using email, starting to graduate towards text messaging for their communications because I think 95% of all text messages get opened and only 20% of business email. Far more effectively is to allow people to take their communications when they want them, so if we’re buying a house together, we’ve gone back and sat on the sofa with a glass of wine, it’s quite useful for us to be able to log on to our iPads and go through all the communications that we’re receiving from are agents. It’s one of the biggest complaints that people have, of course, is that they do not receive enough communication, so that’s the process of the transaction. Then there’s the communication of the” wow” factor and agents now are starting again to use things like Periscope, where they can create a closed group on the Twitter application, so that one of their Negotiators can actually walk around a property, show people around that property, receive tweets from the 200 people in the closed group that are watching and give a really good interactive presentation to 200 people, instead of showing 200 separate people around.
There’s also been experimentation with 3D cameras, like the Ricoh Theta S, where an agent can actually take that camera around, hold it in front of them, do one presentation and then upload it to the web. Anyone anywhere in the world can then walk around that house, turn around, look at the Negotiator, look at the cupboards, see the whole rooms and see how they’re actually getting on. With both of those we’ve got situations where sometimes the software is great but the hardware isn’t fantastic and in the case of the cameras, where the cameras are fantastic but the software isn’t great, they’re starting to develop but I’m sure as they do they’ll be used more and more. Some of it’s very accessible, so most of us have an Apple phone or some kind of Android phone, you can put those into a set of virtual reality specs and you can just see that, you can walk around the room and you can feel it.
A bit less accessible is the technology that’s just coming on to the market, something that we’ve been looking at is using Microsoft’s HoloLens application, which is an incredible thing. You can actually have a headset in Peking, you can have a headset in Chiswick, we could have mapped a room that’s in Battersea and I can actually go to that room without leaving my office in Chiswick, I could have someone join me from Peking in that room and I can talk them around that building without any of us leaving our chairs. This is technology that we might be working on today but will actually be in the market and obviously HoloLens has now been around for almost a year, so will be fully into the market probably in the next 6 months. So things are really, really changing dynamically, and if you link that to a very powerful client portal, where you can engage with people all around the world on the internet then all of a sudden you have something that’s interactive and I think that’s the way the world is going.
We seem to be fixed in a very 2D world at the moment, staring at telephone screens, staring at computer screens, it’s not natural for humans, humans want to be able to connect with each other and react in the world. That’s the way technology is going and for selling property of course, it’s absolutely fantastic. For any agents that want to have a bit of fun, drones are fantastic as well.
Peter, thank you very much indeed for spending time with us, for explaining that and for opening up several very exciting possibilities, I love the idea of searching for my next home out in South East Asia from the comfort of my own lounge.