I’m excited to write this piece. I love it when something comes along and delivers that genuine thrill; the thrill of experiencing a game changer.
Last week, I had one of those experiences and, above everything else, it’s confirmed my belief that the sooner property goes mobile, the better.
Our entire lives are going mobile, there’s an argument to say we’re already there, so my suggesting that property should go mobile may seem pretty obvious. But the ‘mobile’ I’m thinking about isn’t limited to viewing listings on an app or receiving live notifications of new matches.
I’m talking about the entire lifecycle of a property, from the moment it arrives on the market to that which the keys are handed over, and everything in between. That’s my definition of truly mobile.
It’s a tall order, and leans heavily on the hope that the general public is ready to place enough faith in their smartphone as to use it as their primary tool when house hunting. The way I see it, it’s a potential obstacle that can be overcome with a combination of two things: security and user experience.
When it comes to security, it’s simply a case of winning user trust. Many people still have doubts about mobile security, especially with high profile cases of cloud hacking and email leaks.
Users of Facebook Marketplace, for example, where, if you want, you can sell your house via social media, have received stark warnings about possible security flaws in the platform.
All of these stories combine and no doubt plant significant seeds of doubt in the consumer’s mind. The technology required to secure mobile activity is, more or less, available, and educating the wider the market will go a long to solve the trust issue.
The more interesting side of things, in my opinion, is the perfection of the user experience...
The UX will be the life or death of any mobile product. If it doesn’t make life easier, people just won’t use it. Last week I had the pleasure of experiencing a new mobile service that demonstrates perfectly the standard of UX we should be aspiring to. It comes from virtual reality tours company, EyeSpy 360, and it’s called EyeSpy Live.
Another level of virtual tours
Launching in September, EyeSpy Live is a platform, available across all mobile and desktop devices, that takes remote house viewings to a whole new level. To quote their own announcement of the platform:
Rather than simply taking a virtual tour around a property, EYESPY LIVE allows agents to join the client in a video chat, where both parties can talk to one another whilst taking the virtual tour. It’s exactly like a property viewing in person, but without actually having to leave the house or office.
I tried it and I can honestly say, it’s brilliant. You can watch, in the video at the bottom of this piece, as I am guided through my very first tour.
There’s also a lot of chat on the video, between myself and EyeSpy CEO, Andrew Nicholls, about exactly how the platform works, so I really recommend watching it. This is a great example of how a good user experience elevates one product above the rest.
The agent and the client can both join the tour from independent locations, and both parties have control of movement.
You can step outside and view the property’s exterior, as well as explore the surrounding area. You can even leave notes and messages throughout the property, perhaps reminders for things that you and your partner should discuss when you take another virtual tour, just the two of you, at a later date.
EyeSpy Live isn’t the only piece of tech helping take mobile property to the next level. News was announced recently of the first ever property contract to be exchanged on a mobile phone. To quote the Press Release:
In yet another leading development by the clicktopurchase platform, a London agent has accepted a binding offer on his mobile phone...the property in question was a retail investment in Weymouth town centre, let to SportsDirect.com Retail Limited, available at an asking price of £900,000 at singerviellesales.com.
If you like, you can watch the historic moment for yourself in this video.
Clicktopurchase has found success in digitising the contract exchanges required for property sales. By taking their technology and ramping it up a gear, they have proven that the mobile phone is a perfectly viable way of conducting transactions and closing deals.
Fruitful and accessible
Going mobile is, I believe, the most fruitful goal for property to pursue. It reduces costs, streamlines lengthy processes and improves customer service; it’s flexible, it’s universal, it’s inclusive; it maximises returns and it’s constantly accessible.
But it’s always important to remember, the best property technology works hard to keep human interaction at its heart.
When it comes to taking property mobile, the goal should not be to replace real people with technology, but to clear the obstacles that currently inhibit interaction between agent and client.
The most prominent of these obstacles are distance and time; by going truly mobile, property can overcome them both.