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Guest blog: ‘Proptech doesn’t make estate agents lazy’

During an interview with the founders of Lonres, the duo said proptech has robbed agents of their traditional skills. Matterport's European boss disagrees - here's why.

James Morris-Manuel, Managing Director & VP EMEA, Matterport


The most successful tech is that which helps us in our day-to-day lives. Facebook, Apple and Alexa are all about making life easier for their customers; to stream, connect with friends or even create shopping lists.

It was with this idea in mind that I was surprised to read a recent article arguing that Proptech is making estate agents lazy and we should reduce its influence.

Customers and business rely on tech that improves their lives and the lives of those around them. Proptech is no different; it helps our sector be responsive to the changing needs of our clients.

Far from killing off traditional agency skills, embracing proptech helps agents get back to the core of what they do best; negotiating and selling homes.

Admin reduced

Reducing time spent on admin for those working in the sector, being responsible to our clients’ needs and the needs of our environment helps all involved spend their time on the things that are important to them.

Occupier demand is driving changes in work practices, with more people looking to flexible working to strike an improved work-life balance. COVID-19 has put the spotlight on flexible working, and conversations are likely to follow about how prepared we are as a country for a departure from traditional working patterns.

Technology can specifically help estate agents adapt to these changes, especially given the role has historically been so reliant on human interaction – technology can help to mitigate the potential risks of not being able to work face-to-face ready for the widespread changes on the horizon.

Technology can also help us become more responsive to the needs of our wider environment.

In all sectors, businesses are increasingly asked to take responsibility for reducing their environmental impact. Think of all the carbon produced by estate agents, and their clients, attending multiple viewings day after day; couldn’t this be mitigated by reducing the need for in-person viewings using a spatial data platform?

Putting the carbon agenda to one side, reducing the need for in-person viewings also helps our clients who lead hectic lives. Technology, such as digital twins, can help estate agents work around their clients’ needs; many might not have the time or inclination to attend multiple viewings because of work and family commitments.

It’s widely acknowledged that [even prior to the Coronavirus outbreak] the housing market is not in such a positive place as it had been in previous decades, with declining house building, lending and affordability making it difficult for people to get on the housing ladder. Although Proptech isn’t the silver-bullet to all of the issues, does it not make sense for agents to have all available tools at their disposal to navigate the current market?

Virtual tours

Virtual tours, smart buildings, search engines and community engagement apps are all brilliant innovations in their own right. However, effective implementation of technology to drive real and impactful change isn’t about just about one innovation, but rather about how they can interconnect to create an eco-system that makes buyer and sellers lives easier.

Far from inducing laziness, proptech helps agents be more responsible in their business operations and to the needs of buyers. Why not embrace it?

Read our exclusive interview with the Lonres founders.

Visit Matterport.


One comment

  1. The concept behind computers in their initial form was to ‘automate business process’.
    We appear to have belittled the concept of IT down to that of personal use for posting on social media or playing games or having WhatsApp groups with your friends.

    I m astonished at the slow up take in software and systems by the property industry that is lagging so far behind other industries that appear to be less suitable to tech solutions yet everyone has Just Eat.

    Yes virtual viewings, record them if your carrying out inspections is key for evidence.
    The ability to carry out Biometric ID checks to carry out Right to Rent checks can be done easily too.

    So why are so many agents not:
    – using social media and removing their addiction to Right Move
    – not using digital signatures for ID checks
    – not using online quote systems for conveyancing quotes
    – using tracking portals like Legal Bricks to track the cases
    – not looking at other ways to reduce failing completions levels and the slowest completion times in history (not including COVID-19 times)

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