THE FU­TURE OF PROP­ERTY IN­SPEC­TIONS

Alan Hashem dis­cusses some of the new in­no­va­tions in prop­erty in­spec­tions, in­clud­ing a new revo­lu­tion in video.

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - Alan Hashem

The prop­erty in­spec­tion process has come a long way in the last 10 years, but it still has a way to go. Looking back, pen and paper in­spec­tions were a nightmare. In­spec­tion apps flooded the mar­ket when we fi­nally got our heads around apps and since then progress has been in­cre­men­tal. We saw a few time­sav­ing fea­tures added at a time, to the point that you’d barely recog­nise the orig­i­nal apps from the ones you see to­day.

It begs the ques­tion – what’s next? What fea­tures have we yet to un­cover to stream­line the process? We’re con­stantly re-eval­u­at­ing things at In­spec­tion Man­ager and search­ing for the next big idea. I thought I might share a few that we’re re­ally ex­cited about re­leas­ing this year, as well as have a look at where in­spec­tions are head­ing.

VIDEO IN­SPEC­TIONS

You’re do­ing an in­spec­tion and as you walk through the house, you hear a weird noise. You search around and solve the mys­tery. Thank God, it’s not a mur­derer, just the air con­di­tioner in des­per­ate need of re­pair. Relieved that you’re no longer in im­me­di­ate dan­ger, you write down your notes. How are you go­ing to de­scribe that noise? Was it a wr­rrrrr? Is that too many Rs? So many ques­tions.

We’re in­tro­duc­ing video in­spec­tions for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, not just that spe­cific ex­am­ple. It’s just an­other way to doc­u­ment things and show them to land­lords, ten­ants and – heaven for­bid – tri­bunals. Be­ing able to send a 10-sec­ond video, time- and dat­es­tamped, is an­other way to in­sure your­self and make sure you can back up your claims when images just won’t do. You can also talk dur­ing the videos as re­minders to your­self if you have to watch them later.

As with all of our fea­tures, we’re cer­tain that you can and will find other uses for videos be­yond the ones we’ve dreamed up. The im­por­tant thing is that you have a va­ri­ety of tools that will save you time and al­low you to do the best pos­si­ble job within that time. We speak to prop­erty man­agers who rou­tinely take 400 to 500 photos for their in­spec­tions. Hav­ing a video to re­place 500 photos would not only save these prop­erty man­agers a huge chunk of time on site, but re­duce the has­sle of sift­ing through un­til they find just the right photo.

BE­ING ABLE TO SEND A 10-SEC­OND VIDEO, TIME-AND DATE-STAMPED, IS AN­OTHER WAY TO IN­SURE YOUR­SELF AND MAKE SURE YOU CAN BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS WHEN IMAGES JUST WON’T DO.

CUS­TOMISED RE­PORTS

All in­spec­tion apps cur­rently of­fer some kind of cus­tomi­sa­tion in the fi­nal re­port, par­tic­u­larly with com­pany lo­gos and in­for­ma­tion on the cover page. The next step is not just en­hanc­ing that brand­ing, but al­low­ing flex­i­bil­ity in the struc­ture of the re­port. Ob­vi­ously there is no way around a few un­mov­able el­e­ments of leg­isla­tive com­pli­ance, but each of­fice has dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments and ex­pec­ta­tions around what a re­port should be com­prised of. A one-size-fits-all men­tal­ity is no longer vi­able.

Af­ter a lot of cus­tomer feedback, we are now de­vel­op­ing a re­port edit­ing tool that al­lows you to chop and change dif­fer­ent parts of your re­ports, be­yond just lay­outs. There could be a per­son­alised dis­claimer that you want to add, or some­thing you want to flag for an owner’s at­ten­tion. If you want one photo larger than the oth­ers to high­light dam­age, that will all be pos­si­ble.

More im­por­tantly, fea­tures like this have to be in­cred­i­bly easy to use. Many of you will re­mem­ber edit­ing and for­mat­ting your own re­ports in Word, and we are def­i­nitely not try­ing to re­visit that. You should be able to struc­ture your re­ports how­ever you please, with­out the has­sle of try­ing to build your own re­port ev­ery time.

BET­TER IN­TE­GRA­TION

We use sys­tems and tech­nol­ogy to save us time, yet too of­ten we end up with six dif­fer­ent sys­tems oper­at­ing in­de­pen­dently, de­feat­ing the orig­i­nal pur­pose. For­tu­nately, all ser­vice providers are mov­ing to­wards in­te­grat­ing with other soft­ware for your con­ve­nience.

When we started five years ago, we were the only prop­erty in­spec­tion app that had an ex­clu­sive in­te­gra­tion with a trust ac­count­ing soft­ware in REST pro­fes­sional. Mov­ing for­ward, this won’t be as rare, as busi­nesses are recog­nis­ing the im­por­tance of con­ve­nience. Newer cloud-based prod­ucts like Prop­erty Tree are spring­ing up that will be far more user-friendly and eas­ier to plug into. That’s great news for you, as it means not hav­ing to re­mem­ber five dif­fer­ent pass­words and hav­ing to trans­fer in­for­ma­tion be­tween sys­tems. These pro­cesses are be­com­ing au­to­mated.

…WE DON’T KNOW

This is the most ex­cit­ing part. As much as we try and pre­dict fu­ture trends and dream up fea­tures, we gen­uinely don’t know where we’ll be in five years as far as in­spec­tions are con­cerned. We also don’t know where these ideas will be com­ing from.

We re­cently opened up a com­pe­ti­tion with our cus­tomers to make sug­ges­tions for new fea­tures or im­prove­ments to In­spec­tion Man­ager. There’s one sim­ple rea­son for that – the re­al­ity is that you spend about 20 per cent of your time per­form­ing in­spec­tions, which is about 20 per cent more than us. What comes next should be driven by the in­dus­try, from peo­ple who con­duct in­spec­tions all the time.

Which­ever app you hap­pen to be us­ing for your in­spec­tions, I’d en­cour­age you to send through your sug­ges­tions and have your say. Af­ter all, you’re the ones us­ing them.

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