Once managed through outdated systems and scattered spreadsheets, residential agency has transformed in recent years with technological development and innovation spearheading the change. The digitalisation of the property sector has shifted the balance in the industry, weighted by growing customer expectations.
The decision-making process had arguably once lacked enough acknowledgement of the end-user, but now this has become the constant. Proptech has flipped the status quo in the residential by reflecting the growing realisation that the customer experience must lie at the crux of the sector. As such, the nature of proptech, the problems it tackles and the solutions it provides have led to significant developments in residential agency.
One of the most significant aspects of residential agency is that it is consumer-facing, and as such, it is the consumer that should drive the innovation. As millennials become a larger segment of the lettings industry, the market has had to adapt to this change in needs. Much of people’s lives are conducted digitally and therefore industries have had to digitise their processes to meet this demand. In response to this shift, effectively curating a unique online presence has become paramount for agencies as the notion of access has changed.
Shift in consumer demand
The lettings sector has been typically slow to respond to the changes in consumer demands and priorities, but with the ever-growing influence of proptech in the market, we have seen advancements in the digitisation of the tenant journey. Additionally, as a result of the digital shift of consumer demands, tenants expect much faster results and service. Outdated systems can not meet this demand but with new proptech solutions, agencies are able to speed up lettings processes while at the same time providing excellent customer service.
An example of how this consumer-focused innovation has translated in the lettings market is that, through proptech, agencies can quickly resolve maintenance issues and make the most cost-effective decisions. When solving maintenance issues, a critical area of note concerns the risk of human error and the effect that may have on efficiency, revenue and operations. Through innovations such as bespoke apps for every stakeholder, agencies can identify, resolve and track maintenance issues quickly and effectively. As such, delivering excellent customer service and meeting customer expectations takes precedence.
Responsibilities of agents
Successfully maintaining operations as a letting agency, from onboarding to maintenance, has been a challenge but has driven the rise in the automation of letting processes. As such, the continued automation of processes will change the role and responsibilities of letting agents and how they navigate their position at each stage of the tenancy journey. As innovation in the proptech space is largely dictated by the needs of letting agents, this shift in responsibilities will determine the direction in which proptech innovates and evolves.
Digitising the lettings journey
By digitising the majority of the lettings journey processes, proptech has diversified the structure and presence of high-street lettings branches. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced agencies to analyse which agents and areas of their business can be just as effective working remotely, calling into question the need for agencies to have a prominent high street presence.
While it was proven that agencies could work effectively away from the office, this does not necessarily undermine the need to maintain a high street presence. However, what will change is how these branches are used and who will use them as more agencies adopt a hybrid approach to working.