Let's out-tech Brexit

Published: 06/02/2019 By Jane Robathan

Despite Brexit, we’ve had a steady start to the year. Encouragingly, first-time buyers are active again with one flat going under offer on its first viewing last week. Another client has had multiple offers on her adorable pad, a third has two great buyers to choose from, while a previously ‘strugglesome’ semi has just valued-up. It would appear prices have adjusted enough to get the market moving from the bottom upwards, but then south east London prices haven’t dipped as far as east, west or north London (because they didn’t peak as much in the first place, one could argue). So, our patch is still viewed as more affordable by buyers, who are still coming in from Hackney, Dalston, Clapham and Battersea.

While this is all far from worrisome, we’ve yet to see how Brexit plays out. If no one saw the recent Marsh and Parson’s advert featuring Theresa May with the caption, ‘Semi-detached, awaiting planning permission,’ now is the time to Google it and admire its creators.

Whatever happens, people will always move house and ongoing advances in technology are furrowing amazing new paths ahead. If agents embrace proptech, putting more onus on users’ convenience, they’ll survive very well whatever trade deals we do or don’t reach. The rise of online offerings such as Nested, Purplebricks and Settled are eating into market share and when you consider their benefits to clients, you can see why. While I’d argue the purplish company is the cheaper, less advanced (yet pioneering) sibling of these three, the other two’s strategies certainly deserve closer inspection. If traditional agents invest in technology and align business goals to help people make informed decisions faster, they’ll win. I hear that in Estonia, tech has been developed that allows a tenant to pre-load relevant personal data and money onto a card the agent scans after a viewing. The tenant can leave the shop with a key to their new home immediately as they’ve been pre-referenced, credit checked, identity checked and paid in one transaction. It’s only a matter of time before this type of digital magic moves into the sales sphere and agencies who stay ahead of it, will do very well indeed.