In a recent conversation with an awestruck 12-year-old, I had the task of explaining what a facsimile was. She thought it was a wonderful creation; whereas I recalled the heartache of running out of paper just as an important fax was coming through to my home office.
In the early Noughties, some estate agents still faxed property details. Others had embraced the technological age and sent images and brochures by email. This involved spending many a night waiting for hours as the dial-up screeched and sent high-resolution images from my PC to my editor.
We’ve come a long way, baby. Wifi, WeTransfer and Dropbox have been game-changers for property journalists and estate agents alike. For buyers, property portals have changed how they view property.
Now, Savills wants to change how property is bought and sold. The estate agency is introducing Clicktopurchase to its sales process, an agent-operated platform for buying and selling property online.
Allsop and The Leinster Property Auction introduced online auctions in about 2014. Clicktopurchase differs in that it is used in private treaty, best bids and auction sales. Savills is hoping to remove the uncertainty around sales by removing the sale-agreed period.
It says that the platform allows contracts to be exchanged immediately; in some cases deals have been done within two days. Legally binding electronic signatures will be attached to electronic contract notes after a buyer has submitted an offer.
Clicktopurchase was launched in the UK in 2010. The company says that more than £171m (€194m) worth of property sales have been executed online in the UK and Ireland since then. Buyers must pass a verification process before they can submit an offer. And as it is online, everything, from offers to online exchanges will be recorded.
Last week, Angus Potterton, managing director of Savills Ireland, said difficulties in online auctions had been caused by legal compliance. Clicktopurchase provided “tamper-proof, verifiable and validated” documents, he claimed. It’s estate agency, but not as we know it.