This is an article published in Domain on Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Written by KATE FARELLY
The changes forced on real estate agents by the government’s COVID-19 social distancing measures have led to a mammoth uptake of proptech in a bid to keep business afloat.
“The virus has accelerated agents’ adoption of some of this technology and it’s made a lot of businesses realise they’ve been overly dependent on legacy systems,” says Kylie Davis, founder of the recently formed Proptech Association Australia.
“[These systems] don’t allow them the flexibility to let their staff work from home and those agents have been scrambling for new options.”
Davis says many proptech (property technology) options are already well-tested and offer highly functional solutions that make processes for buying, selling and leasing more robust and secure.
“The benefits to sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants are light years ahead of what the old manual system can do,” Davis says.
Stephen Venn, principal of Harcourts VennMillar in Adelaide, was an early adopter of Reso, an online sales platform that records the entire transaction including every buyer and every offer, making it independently auditable.
He also uses Openn to conduct online auctions and says there’s no question these platforms enhance his business processes.
“We started using them before we were forced to and the take-up from buyers has been quite positive, particularly now when they expect agents to be doing everything online.”
Ray White Carrum Downs BDM Victoria Cox started using Forms Live four months ago and recently incorporated DocuSign to better adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“We saw that was the way the world was going anyway and it integrates with our CRM,” Cox says. “It’s a lot faster and easier to get things done and we can make changes from wherever we are. We’re not dealing with paperwork and we’ve cut out those waiting days.”
Sydney-based agent Max Wagschall of The Agency Lower North Shore is happily working from home using Realtair, a digital platform managing the sales process from appraisal to settlement.
“Some agents have come unstuck because they didn’t have systems in place but there’s nothing really holding me back in terms of what I can do for clients and I can continue the workload I was operating at [pre-COVID-19],” he said.
National operations manager for First National Ed Atkinson says he aims to provide members with as many services as possible so they can continue conducting business.
Atkinson has built First National Hyperlocal, a platform that enables single-click marketing within a certain kilometre radius of any given listing. With buyers stuck at home, his software ensures agent listings find an audience via property portals like Domain and social media platforms.
“Every week we’ve been publishing out to our network and we’ve got agents that are absolutely smashing it right now, aided by proptech,” he says.
Davis believes anything that adds transparency to real estate transactions and makes the process faster and easier is a good thing.
“When this is all over, anyone who goes back to the old ways of doing business needs their head read,” she says.