The Future of House Hunting: How Technology Is Affecting High Street Estate Agencies


The internet has transformed the way we buy and sell commodities. Properties are just one of the many things that can be bought and sold online, and in fact, technology arguably does a better job of it than high street agencies do – particularly when it comes to buyers’ ability to research and sellers’ ability to market. So, how exactly is technology affecting high street agencies?


Firstly, websites and apps are listing more properties that estate agents can cover. Rightmove and Zoopla display 90% of the properties available to buy or let in the United Kingdom, which means that buyers now have access to lots of different kinds of properties the moment they become available. This kind of technology has made it easier to house hunt. Gone are the days where buyers had to flick through local papers, scout for FOR SALE or FOR LET signs in a desirable area, or – most significantly of all – peer through an estate agent’s window for recent listings.


Secondly, property portals are familiarising buyers with homes in a way that makes much of an estate agent’s work redundant. Property apps and websites provide key pieces of information (such as floor plans, EPC ratings and local area information) that we used to rely on estate agents to provide. Technology is also allowing buyers to investigate a property using Google Maps, checking out transport links and the surrounding environment, and buyers can even use Google Street View to get a feeling for the neighbourhood and the community.


Also, technological advances are allowing buyers to rival estate agents when it comes to finding out what’s happening in their local market. Whilst new homes for sale aren’t marketed through high street estate agencies, businesses such as WhatHouse are informing buyers of new housing developments being built in an area. With news, information, resources and advice, websites like these are divulging a key piece of information that’s crucial for buyers but traditionally reserved for estate agents: a location is becoming more desirable and is therefore worth investing in.


Technology is also informing buyers about house values. If you’ve ever used technology to house hunt, you probably haven’t even questioned whether or not the property’s price would have been listed alongside its photographs and details. However, this information used to be reserved for high street estate agents only. It wasn’t until the Land Registry decided that the prices paid for homes must be made public that buyers had a way of finding out the true value of a property, as well as of other properties in the neighbourhood. The availability of this information has allowed buyers to gauge an accurate idea of what they should pay, meaning that they don’t have to trust the seller or their agent to present them with a fair figure. If anything, technology is giving buyers stronger bargaining power.

Finally, technology is reducing the risk of crossed wires and communication issues. Buyers no long have to hope they’ve articulated their needs correctly or lucked-out with an attentive estate agent: if they can operate a website, download an app or sign up for an alert, they can find their dream home.

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