Sellers should put technology on their checklist when choosing an agent
I started my career in the traditional auction industry over a decade ago. Today, I head up the Irish arm of BidX1, a property company with a digital platform that enables fully online transactions, across five markets. Having overseen the sale of over 10,000 properties in that period, I have experienced the benefits of digital transformation in the property industry first-hand.
Although selling a property is traditionally associated with stress and uncertainty, much of this can be alleviated – now more than ever – by choosing an agent that will harness technology in your favour.
This should come into play at the very earliest stages of the sale process; by using data to decide on the optimum pricing and sale strategy for your property. The advice that an agent gives you must be based on concrete data – decisions on pricing and marketing will only be effective if this is the case.
Your agent should be able to provide you with a tailored strategy for your property based on demand for exactly that asset class, in that location, within the last three months – and a clear overview of how relevant buyers will be targeted and engaged throughout the sale process.
In an uncertain market, experience is helpful – but hard data is crucial.
Digital Age, Digital Marketing
When it comes to finding buyers, we know the property industry has generally been slow to leverage the power of digital marketing. This means leaving the fate of what will probably be the most important transaction of your life to the limitations of traditional methods.
Services like virtual tours will assist potential purchasers in assessing the property once they know it’s there. But precision marketing will connect the right buyers with your property in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about their digital marketing strategy – do they have a digital marketing specialist? Do they have a significant database of potential buyers, both domestic and international? What is their plan to target overseas buyers?
Our own data on Irish sales between June and September indicates the importance of the latter point: almost 10% of the 11,888 bids on Irish properties were placed by buyers outside Ireland. In that period alone we had 19 buyers from the UK, 6 from the USA, 4 from Australia, 3 from Holland…to name some of the top locations.
An agent should have a substantial database of local and international buyers who can be targeted based on their investment requirements.
Due Diligence: Overdue?
And what about the nuts and bolts of the transaction process itself?
A digital process enables buyers to complete the full transaction online, from due diligence to completion of the sale. It doesn’t mean, as many fear, that there are no physical viewings of the property or interaction with the agent. What it does mean is a more convenient and accessible process that facilitates both local and international buyers, which is naturally going to help secure the maximum price for your property.
It can also bring greater transparency to the process. We know that buyers fear fake offers or hidden deals. A public, real-time record of offers provides complete transparency while a simple, online registration process can ensure that potential purchasers are ‘pre-qualified’ beforehand – a huge benefit for sellers who have the comfort of knowing that offers are genuine.
Unfortunately, when it comes to due diligence, the existing process is back-to-front: purchasers make offers on a property before they have seen the relevant legal documents. Perhaps because we have been doing it this way for so long, we have not considered how strange such a practice is – though we are aware of the difficulties it causes.
The legal pack should be made available online during the marketing period so that interested parties can access it prior to making an offer. In other words, the buyer can make an informed decision. The sale is far less likely to fall through and the sale agreed period will be significantly shorter.
Some agents will have a dedicated portal on their website, allowing your solicitor to upload the legal documents directly, which is ideal. At the very least, they should have a user-friendly online platform which will allow potential purchasers to access those documents.
A Modern Approach to Property Sales
Considering all this, a collaborative approach could be a powerful option for many sellers, allowing them to benefit from the combined skillset of more than one agent. A property firm that puts technology and data at the heart of its model is now a hugely valuable partner in any sale process.
In our own business, we’ve seen incredible results through this model in 2020, collaborating with other agents to devise solutions for sellers.
It’s clear that technology is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’. The property industry is the laggard on this front; now is the time to accelerate the transition to a more modern, tech-enabled approach to property sales.
This piece originally appeared in the Business Post here. Jonathan Fenn is Director at BidX1 Ireland.