Everything in property that can be digital will be digital

Private Property South Africa
Maziar Arsalan

The idea of classified portals around the globe started around 15 years ago. What started as a disruptive business model leading the established classified sections in the newspapers to crash today is true for almost anything that trades or needs a posting. Jobs, Cars, Property, Household items and many more are digital today, and while the offline market still exists, it is by far less efficient to rely solely on this. Craigslist, eBay or Alibaba.com as the most valuable B2B classifieds portals are clear indicators of where the powers have shifted to.

But what started as a digital billboard a decade and a half ago in property is just half of the story (if not less) of what is ahead of us. Here are three ideas on how the world will change in the next few years in our industry:

  • Properties will find buyers and tenants

  • Search for agents will be digital and based on reviews and ratings

  • Empowerment of users with data will allow individuals to make better property decisions

Let us look at how today’s search and find process will change within the next years:

Today it is up to the browser to go for the property hunt. If a property is found a number of manual processes have to be initiated – call the agent, make appointment for viewing, apply for the loan and get hold of an attorney. What if you would be able to reveal all your data in a digital property wallet and link this to your profile with your schedule, approved loan plans and all other necessary data? Fiction?

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day. You are about to take out your partner for a special dinner. You want to absolutely make sure that the evening (including 2-3hrs at the restaurant) will be fabulous. When you decide to go to a new restaurant most likely you will search for reviews. These are either on Google or with a third party provider like eatout.co.za or TripAdvisor. That is most likely what you base your ‘purchase decision’ on – and that is only a few hours that you are going to be spending there.

When it comes to holiday’s most of us want to make sure we have a great time off work and enjoy these valuable days at a place that offers nice accommodation. Be it a hotel, resort or a bed and breakfast. Our time and comfort is so important to us that we again go online and read what others have experienced by staying there. Our purchase decision is again based on reviews and ratings – and at times also on the way complaints are handled online (see hellopeter.co.za).

And now when it comes to property, the most important financial decision in our lives, what do we base that decision on? Brand? Word of mouth? Experience from friends and family? All true, but why are we leaving the digital experience out here? Shortly there will be agent reviews and ratings that bring transparency into the process of choosing the right agent. We have seen it happen at Zillow (USA) and ImmobilienScout24 (Germany) with huge success.

And finally the access to data like property values over time, demographics or current pace of the market will empower buyers and seller to make better property decisions. It will empower users to be in the driver's seat of property transactions just as they are taking over power with services like Uber or Airbnb.

The essence: Property listings will soon be a commodity and available on many sites. The process of how that listing finds the right buyer/tenant is what is going to be making the difference. Mastering and matching that process in a digital way is what is ahead of us. This is based on your efforts on how the RIGHT lead comes to you or how a homeowner will pick you as the RIGHT real estate professional. It is in your hands to convince the digital property owner/tenant/buyer with your digital services and the power of your digital reputation.

Private Property will make sure that you are digitally covered at all times to meet with the expectations of future browsers.

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