The impact of technology on real estate

Since the arrival of smart phones, lower cost and faster bandwidth, the Internet is no longer a business tool – it's a utility to which every homeowner has easy and ready access.

You can communicate with friends and family abroad or around the corner, you can do research, and you can buy things – anything from groceries to movies, from books to computers. But can you use the Internet to buy property?
Where, in the past, clients took the first step into the real estate industry by contacting an estate agent, they now start by browsing various websites to see what is available, whether it be to purchase or for sellers, to look at what properties are selling for in the area.
“Both buyers and sellers are also far more educated. They have the ability to research the areas in which they are interested, and they have all the information they need about transfer duties, agents' commissions and the process of buying a property at their fingertips,” says Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
“With the growth of the Internet and social media, and the advancement of technology, we had to change the way we do business, which we have, and  I am proud to say that Engel & Völkers has taken the lead in the industry when it comes to technology and systems” Craig continued.
The systems and platforms of the Engel & Völkers' group have been developed to cover all aspects of today's demanding and fast paced lifestyle for both clients as well as sales advisors, so they can focus on their clients.
Some of these include a database system, which assists agents from the capturing of client's details, to the registration process. This system ensures clients receive optimal service as each and every interaction, communication, outcome of a showhouse etc, is recorded. Furthermore each property is automatically published to more than 50 websites through the system, giving maximum online exposure.
The web-based e-mail server, hosted in Germany, ensures our property sales advisors are always connected for faster response time on all email enquiries, and a newsletter tool makes sure that you can stay informed regarding everything happening in your area. Engel & Völkers is also the only real estate agency with their own monthly in-house publication, as well as a quarterly international lifestyle magazine, both also available in electronic format online.
Our property sales advisors furthermore have access to an online shop, whereby they can receive all their marketing material with the push of a button. This ensures that a standard is upheld throughout the country and the brand remains strong and elegant.
“With the latest addition of our brand new website, we guarantee a satisfied and user friendly experience. The site has been designed to ensure optimum search engine recognition.”

However, buying a home is a truly emotional experience, and emotion is something that technology can't sell. While a potential buyer may have seen a property online, it would be unwise for them to buy it without seeing it in person. A home is one of the biggest investments a person will ever make, and it has to be done with every piece of knowledge readily available – including the atmosphere and feeling of the home, which are things that cannot be communicated via a virtual environment.
The sale of a fixed property cannot be concluded without human involvement. We still need real signatures, and buyers and sellers both need to know that their interests are being looked after, and that they're getting the best possible deal. Engel & Völkers property sales advisors are trained in all aspects of property law, particularly with the new National Qualifications Framework that has been applied to the industry. It is the kind of knowledge and experience that no website can offer, and it is key to the successful conclusion of a sale.
“This is why good, experienced and reliable estate agents will always be in demand. Engel & Völkers offers clients the personal attention of a professional property sales advisor, who can manage the process of a sale with discretion and care. Clients may well use the Internet to conduct their research, but they prefer to engage with a real individual who can look after their every need when it comes to buying a home” Craig concluded.

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