News Blog - Commercial

31 January 2017

THE RISE OF AUTOMATION: DOES REAL ESTATE STILL NEED REAL PEOPLE?

It’s a brave new world for property brokers…

Today, anything that can reduce costs and streamline processes is quickly adopted by businesses and consumers alike. As a result, most industries are being disrupted by automation.

Naturally, businesses must remain ‘agile’. However, for property brokers, the danger comes in doing so to the detriment of customer satisfaction. Too often it becomes a trade-off between trimming down costs and keeping up with customer needs as they evolve.

Real estate is an industry of high investment that affects people’s livelihood. Indeed, in some cases, it is their livelihood. Traditionally, real estate agents have served as the crucial intermediary in the buying and selling of property. But, over the past decade, the ease of finding and comparing listings online has left some wondering about the need for the middleman at all.

Fortunately, it’s not an either/or scenario. There’s a balance to be struck, where the respective strengths of technology and human agents can not only coexist, but enhance one another.

HOW AUTOMATION IS AFFECTING REAL ESTATE

Modern shopping culture demands convenience. Click to browse, click to buy. And property is no exception.

The recent increase in property websites and apps means that the average property seeker is now better equipped than ever before. The goalposts for consumer expectation have shifted, along with their market fluency.

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With relatively little expertise, customers can now find out what’s for sale, what’s for lease, and where the value lies. What remains unclear from this initial browsing session is the subtext ‒ the story behind a prospective buyer or tenant, which plays an integral role in informing decisions.

An agent’s hot tip at a particular time, on a particular day can present customers with an opportunity they might have otherwise missed.

WHAT CAN (AND SHOULD) BE AUTOMATED?

  • Property maintenance requests
  • Rental transactions
  • Cash flow estimates for investors
  • Quantitative data (i.e. neighbourhood research such as commute times and proximity to facilities)

WHY PEOPLE ARE ESSENTIAL

Defining agents and brokers as ‘middlemen’ is a confusion of terms. They’re more like intermediaries. The difference may be subtle, but it’s an important distinction to make. In fact, it’s technology platforms ‒ collating facts and figures ‒ that have become the middlemen. Agents, on the other hand, have the ability to interpret this data ‒ providing context and advice that’s informed by industry experience.

The property market is a big money game ‒ value fluctuates and there’s no such thing as a straightforward purchase or lease agreement. Even when privately owned, buildings are subject to government rules and regulations. This means a whole lot of fine print to digest. Therefore, expert advice is vital.

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Put simply, technology is there to serve agents and assist property owners and buyers, rather than replace them. A crucial part of the process is the dialogue, negotiation, intuition and empathy that cannot be replicated by an automated system. It demands a level of trust, understanding and urgency that can only be delivered by an actual person. Instead of agents becoming obsolete, technology has simply heralded a rethink of their roles.

BENEFITS FOR BUYERS AND TENANTS

Improved service

The good news is that property agencies are acutely aware the game has changed. They know they’re dealing with a smarter consumer, and the competition has increased.

According to Patrick Sisson for Curbed, the new landscape dictates that agents and brokers must reinvent their roles. Estate agents have shifted from information arbiters to local experts and service providers.

The key challenge for brokers, meanwhile, is to become more responsive. They have the chance to be more proactive, trustworthy, and to find new ways to offer value for buyers and sellers alike. A large part of success ‒ not to mention longevity ‒ hinges on how well they adapt to client expectations.

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“Nowadays, it’s so important that we provide a greater level of insight than a Google search. This has given rise to a more committed and personal standard of service,” says TGC Sales & Leasing Agent, Hamish Mackay.

“At the end of the day, when property owners look to an agent, they’re investing in peace of mind.”

The brief for agents may have become tougher but, for consumers, that can only be a good thing. Consumer-first society drives businesses to prove their value every step of the way.

Save yourself the legwork

Whether you’re looking for your first commercial property, or building on an existing portfolio, the search can be equal parts exhausting and demoralising. It’s a significant time investment when you’re trying to launch or maintain your business.

To make sure your search turns up the right result, you need qualitative information, not just facts and figures. Agents have the ability to do the hard yards, not only in searching but vetting properties to save hassle for their clients.

Like all industries, the approach to real estate is changing. New technology takes some getting used to. The priority for the agent of the future is to be able to understand the evolving needs of consumers, along with tech functionality, to ensure they continue to deliver the best service standards possible.

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USEFUL PROPERTY APPS WORTH TRYING

  • Suburb Investor ‒ allows you to compare the growth rates of any suburb in Australia
  • Property Calculator Australia ‒ gives you visibility across everything including stamp duty, loan balance, deposit, loan repayments and plenty more
  • BMT Tax Calc ‒ helps you estimate tax depreciation deductions for your investment property

TGC has access to a variety of office spaces in Sydney and an experienced team of commercial property experts who are happy to answer any questions. Contact us or call on 1300 458 800.

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Date: 31 January 2017 Author: TGC Writer
Commercial
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About the author:

TGC Writer

TGC is the largest privately owned commercial real estate agency in the Sydney CBD, with over 20 years experience servicing the CBD, City Fringe and greater Metropolitan property market. We’re committed to assisting you with your total property needs, including buying, selling, leasing and property management.

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