Thursday, February 03, 2011
The changing face of house hunting
I've been busy the last couple of weeks with two different sets of clients over from the UK.
Both couples were charming and, after three days in the car together visiting far flung parts of the Charente (I leave no stone unturned in my searches), I got to know them all quite well....conversation naturally meanders across many topics although rugby did seem to be a common denominator.
Yesterday I had a long conversation about the opportunities available to househunters in these fast changing times. It was a lively debate and we all agreed that the customer is king and that it's the buyer who will drive through the changes.
Then I read this article in the Telegraph, written by Graham Norwood, one of my fellow nominees for the Primelocation blog award. I heartily recommend that you read the whole article but, for me, this bit stands out:
Could apps give me more information than I could get in person from the small town’s seven local estate agencies? Yes.
Take the Rightmove app. It displays all the homes on its website within a chosen radius of where I stand.
Its interactive maps allow me to walk up a street and literally look at the house whose details are in front of me on my mobile screen – I do not need to register with any estate agent first and I can spot if the pictures of the property exclude the dodgy-looking shop next door.
Of course, there are literally hundreds of new property related apps that give you more information on a house and its neighbourhood than you could possibly need.
The three of us, in deepest rural France, decided that the Rightmove stance of not allowing private sales would have to be broken at some stage. If you stop your car in a neighbourhood you want total information of what's for sale not partial. So whether it's Rightmove relaxing its stance, a competitor coming in or a simple aggregating site we decided that there will, one day, be a single online source of all property listings.
We couldn't really understand the rush from single agents to produce apps showing their listings (other than PR or a short term ego boost) but decided that there would perhaps be opportunities for niche agents to do so.
All of us agreed that there's still a role for the estate agent and it was flattering that my clients described it as the service I was offering them.
Doing initial legwork and then using my professional background and local expertise to help in the decision making process (which goes beyond the individual property to issues such as selecting the right location, advising on local restaurants, doctors, schooling etc) and in buying their favourite house at the lowest price possible.
The internet has changed the way we live and work....no-one can say where it's taking us but I'm 100% sure that the guy with the money will have a bigger say in our destiny than the person with something to sell.
Who knows. I've had real fun over the last couple of weeks though - sometimes this is the most enjoyable job in the world....