Agent Provocateur: Has agents’ software become a dog’s breakfast?

Software seems to have become something of a dog’s breakfast with some of the established players scrabbling to rival PSG’s growing, and I would suggest threatening, market share.

The one thing that umbrella ownership of several smaller companies will give is the ability to improve communications between those companies.

Somehow the [unintentional] divide and conquer nature of having many CRM suppliers, to an industry that desperately needs a cohesive approach, leaves the rest of the market playing catch-up – but catch-up it needs to do.

Proptech leaves many agents dazzled as to what it is they need to be looking at next, but integration of legal, Land Registry and mortgage relevant data into agents’ CRM software is as good a place as any to start.

Picking up data from such third party sources is a lovely idea but needs to be simple. Lots of different systems adds complication – and sadly it does seem as if those who seek to supply such data to agents often don’t seem to ask them what it is they actually want first. The old epithet ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ applies.

Having talked to many different agents it seems some are happy to let such information-based third party systems communicate with their CRM software via human input whilst others want automatic feeds citing the fact that getting negotiators and admin staff to actually input data into the CRM systems they run already is already difficult enough.

Given it’s the agents that want the data, I would suggest that rather than lumbering agents with complicated and clunky systems, IF what they are supplying genuinely helps an agent’s life they’ll embrace it and make the effort to use it, assuming it’s affordable and makes sense.

Proptech needs to be something that enhances the working experience for those at the sharp end, ie negotiators and admin staff, or solves a problem they have, or indeed didn’t know they had.

From what I’m hearing, it appears that some of the well established names in CRM are beginning to wake up, and not a moment too soon.

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10 Comments

  1. AgentV

    Perhaps they should try engaging agents at the ‘coalface’ to help development? Or even better, perhaps more agents on the ground should directly develop the proptech!!!

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    1. dylan00169

      AgentV make sure to look out for Hystreet set up by an agent for agents coming soon………..

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      1. AgentV

        TELL ME MORE?

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    2. RochDA

      AgentV, I’m working in product development for OneDome and we’re actively looking to get feedback from estate agents for our products. Please contact me at charles.roels@onedome.com if that’s of interest. /Charles

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  2. Kopredwebb

    Software in EA absolutely grinds my gears – its astonishing that in well over 20 years of using it there isn’t a single offering on the market that comes close to doing everything well, especially lettings/property management software. I’m in the wrong business.

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    1. aSalesAgent

      I hated using Expert Agent when the company I work for was signed up, but now we have our own ‘super-duper’ bespoke system and it’s equally as bad – it’s slow; nothing is where you would expect it to be; the running-sales section is abysmal; etc. Just like you Kopredwebb, in this day and age when we have examples such as Google Android and IOS, why can’t a system be developed that does what we need it to do well?
      Wish I could afford to build one myself.

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    2. MattBesier41

      It’s true. I think the industry had been bogged down with close-minded ex-agents building the software, when it needs a fresh pair of eyes from people in the purely tech industry. Obviously there is a balance to be struck.
      I’ve been trialling something recently that feels much better and fresher. Its intuitive to use and really smart in the way it pulls information on properties. I wont mention the name as I dont want to be a free advert for them! (And I have the advantage of being the only one in my area using it). I’m in a trial and about to sign a deal for my branch – This software, I’m certain, is going to be the next big innovation in the property industry.

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      1. aSalesAgent

        Totally agree MattBesier41. There needs to be a balance. Experienced agents with an understanding of Information Technology must be involved in from the very begninning.
        The cloud-based software we use is developed by an in-house engineer and the impression I get from using it is that the Directors produced a list of requirements and the software was then knocked together with no understanding of what the branch-level users require and how they will use it.
        All I hear are negs complaining about how the system is slowing them down and the Directors talking about how amazing the system is for generating performance charts and keeping tabs on the minions.

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  3. KByfield04

    You may be surprised at how well you get heard by your relevant provider if you come up with cohesive and worthy suggestions. Long before they were acquired by PSG (and them by ZPG) we went to Jupix advsing them that we wanted to have a Landlord portal. Jupix initially showed little interest. We were so keen on the idea we went off, found developers, got quotes lined up and then came back to Jupix to discuss integration (bear in mind this was probably about 7 years ago when ‘integration’ was barely mentioned). The response- we don’t integrate sorry. We felt so strongly that this was the next stage of development for us that we notified Jupix of our intent to leave……..which got attention. Suddently they realsied this wasnt some cosmetic enquiry but key functionality we wanted to see going forwards- and thats when we started collaborating. We set out the key functionality we wanted, how we saw it integrating with the platform and even some visualisations and the rest, as they say, is history. About 2 months later they started building ‘ePropertyFile’ and we have never looked back. The success of that product has led to us having a great voice within the fitire advancement of Jupix and its affiliated services and I was delighted (and amazed) to see this relationship continue after PSG’s acquisition. In fact, when asked ‘what next?’ We advised that the next thing was a Tenant portal/app- and that’s just what happened.

    We continue to talk openly with Jupix and PSG about key functionality and development we want to see and, whilst we dont get everything we want, theres loads happening. There is some really great functionality being developed by the guys at the moment which will transform paperwork and viewing bookings. I cant say more now but it will all come out in the coming weeks/months.

    What we have also done, however, is to look at what innovation is happening in PropTech (both within software and externally) and we found that no one was really looking at the nd of Tenancy process. Personally I beleive the legal framework of this is good but it is time consuming for agents and can be frustrating for Tenants who dont understand the processes involved and their excat rights & responsibilities. So, to that end, we have spent the last 18 months going from concept to build with our own PropTech solution- The Depositary. Whilst our focus is on the EoT process, our long term goal is to streamline & auomate all compliance for agents whilst bringing transparency and clarity to the regulation effecting Tenants & Landlords alike. Although not quite live yet (we hope to be fully operatins early May) we soft-launched at the ARLA conf on Tue and generally have had fantastic feedback on what we are doing. What is more, we have had a great reception from PSG and are working with them to integrate fully- hopefully within the next 6 months (and we are having positive conversations with most suppliers in the field). Long term, by specialising in regulatory compliance (how sexy is that) we hope that we can transform agents lives (especially boutique agents like us with small teams) automating compliance, this in turn can be used as a ‘compliance plug-in’ for software providers leaving them free to focus on more consumer orientated functionality (along with core business support) giving them great ability to evolve and experiment faster. By digitsing compliance, we also hope to bring transparency to the market, improving standards for tenants & highlighting to provatee hands-on Landlords how much the industry has changed in the last 10 years and, as such, how you get so much more value from agents now than you ever did before. With an estimated 500,000 private Landlords not using agents we hope to drive a sizeable proportion of this (back) in to the sector, driving up standards nationwode and growing the sector for agents.

    I could go on but I’ve already written more than intended.

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  4. P-Daddy

    KByfield’s story is a classic example of needs/industry based problem solving from within, rather than relying on techies to program when they probably haven’t enough life experience to understand challenges to real life problems that aren’t algorithms. Too often the systems are generic…almost white label…and then sorted out after being installed. It goes back to the difference between Apple and Microsoft, 1 allows programmers access to the code to adapt, the other doesn’t resulting in many bugs and loss of functionality. But this is the same problem everywhere; how often does a government department introduce a new computer system and program, for it only to fail expensively. CRM will remain a disjointed field, unless the cloud levels out the problems attached to different aged software/computers/servers etc. We saw this problem to our cost with an upgrade on Reapit

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