GUEST BLOG: It’s time to face the brave new world

After two years of frenzy, a market slowly returning to normal levels of transactions is revealing much more about how the property world has changed, says Philip Farrell.

Britain’s red-hot property market may be about to cool after a 24% jump in the number of prospective sellers bringing homes to market, according to figures from Rightmove.

Recent data shows that property appraisals have reached the highest level since January, with a 14% increase in homes coming onto the market in July.

Findings published by Propertymark, also suggest that the housing market is cooling. There are fewer buyers and the average number of viewings per property fell from 6.2 in April to 4.4 in June. And more branches (27%) are reporting that most sales were completed below the asking price compared to a low of just 15% in March.

Extraordinary activity

The property industry has undergone sizeable changes, after years of a buoyant market with extraordinary activity. A temporary freeze in May 2020 due to lockdowns, fuelled the fire for the market and set about a flurry of activity that continued into this year.

All of this essentially means that estate agents need to offer a service that meets the demands of modern-day customers. But what do today’s buyers and sellers look like?

Consumer habits are changing. Fuelled by the on-demand economy, consumers have become accustomed to buying products whenever they want and having them delivered within 24 hours. Bank funds can be transferred in seconds at anytime from anywhere in the world. And bingeing our favourite show on a streaming service, while ordering food to the doorstep is now the norm, regardless of the time of day.

People operate on their own time and when it’s convenient for them. They’ve taken a similar approach for finding a property.”

These changes have allowed people to operate on their own time and when it’s convenient for them. They’ve taken a similar approach for finding a property.

Rightmove has reported that its most popular minute of the week is Wednesday at 8:48 pm, while its busiest day of the year is Boxing Day. Almost half of property offers submitted through our platform occur outside of traditional working hours.

Consumers no longer stick to rigid ways of shopping, whether they’re buying batteries from Amazon or looking for their next home. And so many industries have evolved their service to meet these demands, but the property market has some catching up to do. Despite property being the biggest asset class in the world.

Paper-based processes

Yet, the process is still a slow and cumbersome experience with many paper-based processes that often lead to more confusion than they do gratification. Plus, it’s rooted in office working hours, even though many operate outside the traditional nine-to-five.

Take making an offer. Buyers typically need to submit an offer (during working hours) by email or phone, which the agent then relays to the vendor, who gets back to the agent so they can communicate an answer to the buyer.

It’s time-consuming for all parties involved. Once the offer is finally accepted, the average time to completion is around 11 weeks (almost three months).

Buying a home shouldn’t take this long and making an offer needn’t have so many layers.”

Buying a home shouldn’t take this long and making an offer needn’t have so many layers.

The consumer will demand that the sale happens in a far more efficient and seamless way, digitally. Digitising processes provide buyers and sellers with a fluid experience where they can manage their offers and speed up the buying process.

Important aspects of buying a home need digitisation, such as the offer process. Instead of a three-way conversion over an offer, wouldn’t it just be easier if the buyer could make an offer directly from the listing on the agent’s website whenever it suits them?

Beginning of the end

It’s the beginning of the end for paper-based processes. We will see estate agents facilitating offers, scheduling viewings and progressing the property sale, all on their website within the next few years.

By 2025, I believe most property sales will be negotiated digitally on the estate agent’s website. The ones that embrace the change will not only stay ahead of the curve, but they’ll also be well-placed to adapt to consumer needs and meet them head-on.

Thanks to a relentless market, the property market has enjoyed a purple patch over the past few years. But now that the landscape is slowing and evolving, it’s time to adopt new approaches and methods to sustain success.

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