Are contactless and paperless property transactions our future post Covid lockdown?
If necessity is the mother of invention, then urgency is the father of change. A great lesson that most businesses have learned trying to stay afloat during the Covid times.
Everyone, from bars and restaurants to car sales had to rapidly develop new ways of working with contactless transactions, while still retaining the same level of customer service. A tough task - but as has been proven, achievable with the use of the right technology solutions.
Estate and Lettings Agents go digital
All parties involved in a property transaction benefit from an in-person experience. Property transactions mean spending large sums of money. Most applicants aren’t prepared to do so without having seen the property and the agent that represents it, in person.
The last 12 months have proven that, for some, contactless transactions do have a role for the future. Student rentals, for example, where students live away from their college have had to secure accommodation remotely. Estate Agents have offered 3D virtual tours, others by offering online video viewings, valuations and digital contract signing. Other examples include overseas investors, death estate sales and clients in high-risk covid groups.
The good news is that we are starting to return back to a sense of normality. Lockdown restrictions are slowly lifting. However, we will be living with Covid probably for the next 2 years. Given the choice, will believe agents should remain cautious and not plan for an immediate swing back to the old ways of doing business.
Follow best practice for continued Covid safety
It is tempting to return back to the old, proven-with-time ways of doing business. But we believe it is important to put in place a clear policy that protects staff, clients, tenants, buyers and contractors with covid safety at all times. This will most often mean starting to explore a new lead/opportunity by first offering a digital experience and only to follow-up with in-person viewings once an opportunity is qualified and the meeting is considered the logical next step to progressing a deal.
Over-time, we all hope the risk of future infection will continue to reduce and we can all meet freely again. For the agent selling or letting in today's market, we do see 2020 has been a step change in how business will be done today and in the future. Digital transactions now have a rooted place in property industry as both a first line of protection when infection rates rise. We also suspect clients will increasingly prefer digital over in-person - at least for the first stages of a sale or letting.