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Guest Blog: Has the Pandemic Made Property Sales Less Personable?

By Jonathan Christie, CEO and co-founder of The Property Buying Company

Digital transformation.

For those of us in property, it’s the latest buzzword. One that’s almost overnight, changed the way in which we do business.

Just like with the high street, property shopping is now more of a digital affair than ever before. Interested viewers will be herded online, with only those who show ‘serious interest’ being able to clinch an appointment in person. It’s much the same for those sellers scouring the market for valuations; online appraisals are firmly on-trend.

Not that it’s surprising, especially when you consider that the pandemic has thrust our digital dependence forward by seven years. Team this with the slightly unorthodox moving habits of today’s buyers and you can see why there’s talk of property sales becoming less personable. Some of the notable reasons for this, include…

The Proptech Takeover 

House viewings have entered a new digital age. Prior to Covid, you’d be lucky to come across a property listing that boasted a virtual viewing – the classic ‘meet and greet’ was still very much the way to go. But come the pandemic, and this sellers’ lifeline really came into its own, for buyers especially.

Perhaps because virtual viewings are another nod towards convenience – a growing trend of Lockdown. As a result, the average buyer no longer has to trek cross-country to get a good feel for a property. Useful if they’re in two minds.

Although with that being said, proptech can also act as a barrier. One that limits the level of interaction in-between buyer and seller, as well as any agents too. Go on to consider that this interaction is often enough to coax buyers into making an offer, and the argument that proptech is costing vendors their sale, seems all the more convincing.

Bidding under the hammer… virtually

Because of the pandemic, auctions have also trended towards a more virtual future. A good portion of auctions are now being held exclusively online – yet another sign of this trend towards convenience.

Just like with proptech, bidding virtually is ideal for any buyers who’re hampered by their location. And because of this, it’s likely to open auction houses up to a larger pool of buyers. Something you’d hope would see them achieve a higher price.

However, virtual auctions do come at a price. They sacrifice a buyer’s ability to interact with others in the room – a nightmare for the avid networker! Also, they act pretty much like e-Bay when it comes to selling, so the most competitor analysis you’re able to do is analysing a username; body language is usually a strong giveaway in the auction room.

But these slight flaws aside, virtual auctions have remained popular and aren’t likely to be phased out anytime soon.

Buyers Adopt New Habits

For fans of urban living, Lockdown has been a wake-up call. One that’s seen hordes of city folk uprooting their families and making a move out towards the countryside.

In the south, Cornwall has been a particular rural hotspot. During the first quarter of 2021, the number of searches for property under a Cornish postcode hit 15 million – up 140 per cent compared to the same time in 2019! A shift that you could argue is an antisocial trend, especially when it’s coupled with working from home. One of the main reasons behind this sudden shift.

And as you can imagine, this new way of working has also wormed its way into the industry too. It’s also put a big question mark next to the future of office culture – an aspect of working in property that we simply cannot afford to lose.

To realise why, you have to remember that for the majority, property is their most expensive asset. So when it comes down to it, a property sale equates to a whole lot more than the exchange of funds. A large part of it is actually a relationship.

One that buyers, agents and cash buyers all have the duty of forging between them and a seller. Fail to do so and there’s a good chance they’ll miss out on being involved in their house sale full stop. Exactly why making an effort to ensure that property sales remain personable post Covid isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential.