A key challenge for modern letting agencies is to increase efficiency through the use of technology. One of the main reasons for this is a shift in tenant expectations in recent years. Renters now expect agents to provide a fast and tech-friendly service and want the ability to carry out large parts of the tenancy process from their phone.
Increased efficiency is also required due to the changing nature of the private rented sector (PRS). Regulation has been increasing steadily as the sector becomes more professional, with the introduction of mandatory electrical checks in rental properties in July just the latest in a long line of new compliance requirements.
Moreover, the PRS continues to grow in size, accounting for around a fifth of all households across England, with renting now the largest housing tenure in London. In recent months, there has also been the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for the industry to contend with.
The combination of these factors means that letting agents' time is increasingly at a premium, so it's important you utilise support from the industry's best PropTech products and suppliers.
What is PropTech?
Property technology is a growing trend in an industry which has been traditionally slow in taking up new innovations. The best PropTech products solve problems faced by agents, landlords and tenants, with many focusing on saving time or making processes more seamless.
According to Future: PropTech, some £995 million was invested in UK PropTech companies in 2018. Meanwhile, sector directory Unissu lists over 600 PropTech companies in the UK with a focus on residential property. This huge investment and growth represents positive progression, but at the same time makes it even more important for agents to do their PropTech research and identify exactly what they are looking for.
The slow and steady adoption of technology in the property market is evidenced by KPMG's Global PropTech Survey 2019. It found that 58% of companies have a digital strategy, up from 52% in both 2018 and 2017. Professionals taking part in the survey said that the main barriers to further digitalisation were unclear Return on Investment, digital not being a priority, the lack of a designated person to drive the strategy and a lack of appropriate in-house talent. As UK property companies continue to adopt more technology, having a strategy is crucial to success.
Saving time to focus on business growth
Technology can now be used to make many parts of the rental process more efficient. There are solutions for tenant referencing, rental contracts, security deposits, Right to Rent immigration checks, inventory reporting, virtual property viewings and much more. At a time when agents are busier than ever, having tech solutions which speed up the process is invaluable. If agents can spend less time doing admin tasks, they will be able to focus on managing client relationships and generating new business.
What's more, PropTech that makes agents' lives easier can also help to improve morale and potentially increase productivity. Everyone works better when things are running smoothly and seamlessly. The increased regulation of the PRS also means that compliance is a priority for all letting agents, so using technology which can keep digital records of key information is a necessity.
The best technology can also help to attract landlords and make an agency's service more appealing to tenants. Not only can this help agents to retain business, but it can also improve their local reputation through feedback and reviews, helping to generate even more business in the long-term.
Efficient service is crucial in busy market
It's been well-documented that since the property market reopened in mid-May following a seven-week closure during the height of lockdown, there has been a surge in activity from tenants looking to move. Tenants who were looking to move before the pandemic are now able to proceed, while there is also a new group of movers who decided they wanted to move during lockdown, as well as those who were planning to move around this time anyway.
In recent weeks, agents have therefore been required to process a huge amount of tenancies as figures outstrip comparisons to previous years and this trend only looks set to continue throughout the remainder of 2020. With so many tenancies to organise, compliance measures to meet and Covid-19 safety guidelines to follow, letting agents will need all the help they can get to make sure they can continue to provide an efficient service for landlords and tenants.
A great way to speed up the pre-tenancy process is to overhaul your referencing system. Here at Canopy, our free and unlimited tenant screening - which is powered by Experian and Open Banking - is instant, saving agents time and meeting the needs of all parties. We verify prospective tenants using the information they provide in their Canopy Rent Passport, allowing you to say goodbye to endless requirements for paper IDs, payslips and photocopies. Meanwhile, our DepositFree alternative allows you to let properties faster, reduces costs for tenants and provides better protection for landlords.
As the industry continues to adapt to the new normal, technology will play a key role in helping agents to improve efficiency and ultimately remain successful.