Why online in­tel­li­gence can­not re­place a prop­erty view­ing

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

fol­low­ers have retweeted the glad tid­ings.

I doubt there would have been quite as much en­thu­si­asm had Twit­ter been as pop­u­lar in the dark days of the hous­ing cri­sis five years ago when there was wide­spread gloom and de­creas­ing prop­erty prices.

When we ex­am­ine the wide­spread view that prices across the coun­try in­creased over the last quar­ter, we must strip out the dis­tort­ing ef­fect of the cen­tral Lon­don mar­ket. Growth in York­shire is con­sid­ered to be around one per cent over the same pe­riod. This hardly con­sti­tutes a boom­ing mar­ket­place, but yet some com­men­ta­tors and econ­o­mists are now talk­ing of the dan­gers of a hous­ing bub­ble.

I re­call that only 12 months ago, a num­ber of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als were ques­tion­ing whether the re­cov­ery of our econ­omy could be sus­tained. Surely, it is good news and if proof is needed then the man­ner with which our tweet has been greeted is tes­ta­ment to that.

Buy­ers and sell­ers are will­ingly en­ter­ing the mar­ket and are ne­go­ti­at­ing to their strengths. Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy means there is a vast ar­ray of data avail­able to jus­tify prices. His­toric prop­erty prices from the Land Reg­istry are avail­able on a raft of web­sites and there are even some that seek to use this in­for­ma­tion to give an au­to­matic val­u­a­tion of a prop­erty.

How­ever, when a seller is told this sug­gests his or her house is worth X rather than Y, they are very quick to point out the amount of money they have spent since ac­qui­si­tion and duly dis­miss the process. It clearly doesn’t work.

I was in­trigued re­cently when a client un­der­stand­ably took this stance when sell­ing, but was then gen­uinely sur­prised when the owner of a house that he wanted to buy was equally dismissive of the same data source he quoted and, iron­i­cally, for the same rea­sons.

My own due dili­gence does not just ex­tend to price, the likes of Google Maps and its ground base equiv­a­lent, Google Street View, al­low buy­ers un­prece­dented ac­cess to a prop­erty be­fore they have even crossed the thresh­old. Add in colour-coded floor plans, good pro­fes­sional photography of the in­te­ri­ors and you would think that mod­ern tech­nol­ogy would al­low buy­ers to make an im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion on whether to view and buy.

But Google tech­nol­ogy does not al­ways tell the full story. In fact, it can be mis­lead­ing and, in some in­stances, fun­da­men­tally wrong, when it tran­spires a scratty farm­yard is in fact a smart court­yard con­ver­sion. Po­ten­tial pur­chasers be­lieve the Google map, re­sult­ing in the client mak­ing a no­table re­quest that Google should re-pho­to­graph his prop­erty.

The use of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy is both an es­sen­tial and nec­es­sary busi­ness tool in the mod­ern world. For es­tate agents, the last five years have seen a dra­matic change in the way that prop­erty is of­fered for sale and I would like to think that we have been one of the strong­est ad­vo­cates in the sec­tor, with a multi-lin­gual web­site and an award-win­ning iPhone/iPad app among a raft of ini­tia­tives.

How­ever, for agents, buy­ers and sell­ers, the use of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy will never re­place the tra­di­tional art of sell­ing. So if an agent calls you and sug­gests that he or she has found the per­fect house for you, go and have a look at it. De­spite what your online in­tel­li­gence tells you, you might ac­tu­ally like it!

Tim War­ing FRICS is a part­ner of Knight Frank and leads their es­tate agent team in York­shire, www.knight­frank.com/har­ro­gate

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