With lockdown restrictions continuing to relax and life slowly returning to something nearer normal, now is probably a good time for property professionals to consider the long-term role of PropTech in their businesses.
According to estate agency tech provider, Rex, despite light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic has changed society and the way the property market works forever.
Anton Babkov, CEO of Rex Software, explains: "Making sound technology decisions now can set agencies up to thrive over the coming years. Many of the trends that have come to light over the last year or so - such as increased flexibility and automation - are here to stay. Agencies which return to their pre-pandemic processes could be left behind as the market evolves."
Has estate agency changed forever?
Over the coming weeks and months, agents will need to consider key topics such as how much of the transactions can continue to be facilitated online, as well as whether they continue to prioritise virtual viewings. There are also important decisions to be made around staff well-being, remote working and how to prioritise the split between physical and digital presence.
The needs of the modern consumer will also be paramount, such as the requirement to offer a flexible, all-hours service that is potentially lower contact but more responsive.
Babkov says: "The big question for agents is how do they manage the new demands and trends of the property market while prioritising valuable human interactions and relationship building – two things which are fundamental to success in this industry.
"For example, the stamp duty holiday - a direct consequence of the pandemic - has seen agents dealing with a significantly higher workload than usual. Taking steps such as automating mundane, repetitive tasks has helped innovative agencies to service high levels of demand and reap the subsequent awards."
However, that unusually high levels of activity won't last forever.
Babkov continues: "Now is the time for agents to make sure they have the prospecting and marketing systems in place to maintain their pipelines. Meanwhile, a slick, tech-led service can also help agents to stand out from the competition when there are fewer instructions available."
How should agents use PropTech post-pandemic?
It's imperative for agencies to look at all the PropTech solutions they have adopted and ascertain whether they all fit together.
According to Babkov, a mismatch of products can slow down the customer journey and put consumers off, while at the same time leading to thousands of pounds and hours of time being wasted on tools that aren't used to their full potential.
He adds: "Integration and flexibility are key factors when it comes to PropTech. We've seen how quickly things can change over the last year, so agency businesses need to make sure they are agile and able to implement the latest tech innovations as the market evolves. There is no harm in looking at what other leading agents in your patch are doing and following suit."
Babkov concludes: "Most importantly when it comes to technology, businesses need to implement a five-year plan and budget for growth accordingly.
"This allows agents to scale effectively and adapt to societal changes - such as the impact of the pandemic - without being left behind."