Proptech and the benefits of integration for estate agents

Information technology has transformed – and is transforming – every aspect of our lives. And for those of us in the property industry it has materialised as proptech.

As most of us know, in the simplest terms proptech means that what once had to be done manually can now be done digitally. Letters, phone calls, printed documents and even personal visits can be handled as emails, texts and transfers of data.

And proptech is much more than that too. It has introduced us to concepts such as big data, the cloud, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and more – many of which have hardly made their mark yet.

Although some may have reservations, proptech offers us potentially massive benefits in terms of time and money saved, increased efficiency and better productivity. That applies not just in sales and lettings but throughout the property industry in areas such as planning, construction, building management and finance (or fintech as it is known).

Proptech has to some extent proved its worth during Covid, and perhaps accelerated its adoption in the process. It has meant that things which would have otherwise come to a grinding halt have been able to continue pretty much as normal.

Of course, proptech has been around for a while now. In many ways it is not all that new. One newish development, however, is integration.

What exactly is meant by integration?

Integration is the ability to bring together individual and often very different systems into a single system that functions as one. In simple terms, it means that different systems can effectively talk to one another. It means, for example, products and services from different sources can be ordered, managed and supplied as one.

Whilst it is true that before proptech there was little that could be effectively integrated, integration could be the single development that makes proptech more effective, efficient and powerful than ever before. Integration is probably THE thing that is truly unleashing the power of proptech.

Although there are many different uses for integrated proptech, our Apex27 platform is in many ways a very good example of integration in action. It means that our estate and letting agent users can create property particulars, upload to portals, handle social media, progress calls, viewings, sales and lettings and, yes, even request your signboards movements from Agency Express   – and much, much more – all from one single easy to use platform.

Reaping the benefits

Now that we’ve looked at what benefits proptech and particularly integration can offer let’s look at a few tips on how estate and letting agents (or in fact anyone in property) can harness these benefits for their own business.

Remember that resistance is futile. Proptech is here and now and will only become more integrated in future. Rather than being sceptical about it (if you have been) try to be excited about the possibilities of being able to do everything from one integrated platform.

Be sceptical! New platforms are being rushed into the market, in many cases with great haste, as developers and entrepreneurs look to get a foothold in it. They’re often accompanied by glitzy marketing and ambitious promises. But not all proptech is good proptech, and not all is that well integrated.

There’s nothing wrong with being sceptical and going for those platforms which have some track record of success to offer. Go for those platforms that let you try and get a feel for them before adopting them for the long term.

Be choosy. There’s a lot of tech out there already, so you don’t have to settle for anything but good proptech.

Go for proptech that is powerful yet simple and easy to use. Look for lots of integrations, so that you can maximise what you can do all on one platform. And look for platforms that offer high quality support.

Think benefits, benefits, benefits. Use proptech where it will really deliver benefits for your business, rather than just for its own sake. Look not only for where time and money can be saved, but where proptech will help you do things better.

Be customer focussed. Proptech that delivers a poor customer experience will not only not benefit anyone it could harm your business. Look at the user experience or UX your use of proptech delivers to your customers. First and foremost, what does it do for – and how does it look to – your customers?

Make your team part of your proptech journey. Your colleagues and team members are the ones who work with your proptech every day. While they will (or should) benefit from the advantages it brings they will also have to deal with any shortcomings it may have. So it’s sensible to ask for their feedback on what works, what doesn’t and anything that needs to be changed.

Well integrated proptech is proptech that will work best from both customers’ and colleagues’ points of view.

Keep informed. Keep up to date about what new proptech is becoming available and what is being developed for the future. This way, you will be one step ahead in future rather than being stuck playing catch-up.

Here are some sources of industry news I hope you might find useful: Unissu, Global PropTech and UKTN.

James Wright is CEO and Founder of Apex 27 Limited. Apex27’s team, working in partnership with industry professionals, have developed the next-generation single platform estate agency CRM – a cloud-based, full-featured, cost-effective solution, that’s free to try with no long term commitments.