Digital real estate solutions are far from new, but the global pandemic fostered their uptake at greater rates. David Stewart says there is a big difference between ‘shiny objects’ and using the right tech to make life easier for your customer.
A lot has changed in the property industry since the pandemic hit in March last year, and one of the most obvious and noticeable shifts has been in the acceptance and take-up of PropTech solutions.
In terms of Market Buy’s experience, the use of our product really exploded during COVID, but I don’t think that was solely due to the pandemic.
That said, COVID has certainly accelerated people’s willingness to embrace technology-based solutions.
There was a mindset change from agents across the board, and there suddenly became a greater acceptance of online transactional abilities – whether that be using Zoom for meetings, DocuSign to deliver contracts, or using a product like ours to help manage the negotiation process.
From an industry point of view, as well as a broader societal standpoint, digital products and automation were seen in a new light.
It’s about taking what is, from a societal point of view, a move towards a digital transactional experience, and applying that to real estate sales, but doing it in a way that gives a whole lot of flexibility back to the owners and agents.
With any technology-based solution, it’s important to ensure you’re creating a product that will make people’s lives easier, not making a more convoluted process.
In the years prior to COVID, a lot of people that had no direct experience in real estate decided to make a whole lot of apps and platforms targeting the industry.
Developers came in and said, ‘I reckon you should do it this way’, and forced agents to change the way they worked.
Having 25 years’ experience in running real estate offices and being an agent myself, meant developing Market Buy was about taking a different approach.
It was about going to the agent and saying, ‘We understand that you’ve spent however many years doing what you’re doing and we don’t want to change that – let’s just improve it for you and make things more efficient and easier’.
We looked at the platform from an agent’s perspective.
We didn’t want agents to have to dovetail into a whole new process.
We just wanted to overlay a layer of technology to make their communication processes more simple, more straightforward, and certainly more efficient.
Another thing to keep in mind is your product won’t necessarily be a silver bullet for everyone that uses it.
The reality is that real estate sales is, to an extent, an adversarial process.
You’ve got buyers who want to buy the property as cheaply as they possibly can and you’ve got owners that want to achieve the best result they can.
Those two results don’t jell, so I think it’s near impossible to get a process that makes everyone 100 per cent happy and we’re very upfront about talking to agents.
Like any product, Market Buy doesn’t solve every problem, but it certainly improves processes and provides a great deal more access to information.
This allows people – whether they’re on the buyer side or the seller side – to make really critical decisions in a transparent fashion.
We take a lot of the cloak and dagger out of the process, and we can ensure that we eliminate – to an extent – human error.
We can also make sure, particularly from a buyer’s point of view, that they’re notified of any offer that’s been made.
Real estate transactions are a highly stressful environment for all parties, they’re dealing with hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars, so people are making really life-changing decisions.
We just want to be able to provide the right tools for them to make the best decisions possible with as much information at hand as possible.