EYE’s new Proptech Editor introduces himself

Hi, I’m Rayhan Rafiq-Omar and I’d like to introduce myself as Eye’s Proptech Editor.

I have been blogging about the people and products behind what we call Proptech for over two years.

What is Proptech?

Glad you asked: it’s any piece of software like a website or app, or digital device like a 3D camera or even the smartphone in your pocket, that can be used in the world of property.

It is important to note that Proptech isn’t always helpful or successful. In fact, the Proptech graveyard is littered with many a fanciful idea.

It’s my personal view that many low-fee online agents will be among those fanciful ideas that were backed by too much investor cash and too little understanding of consumer needs.

If an agent tells you they’ll sell your home for less, they really are telling you they’ll sell your home for less.

In my opinion, the ones that will win will use technology to genuinely change people’s lives for the better – such as pricing property more accurately or solving the scourge of chains.

It’s a matter of ‘when’ with technology.

When genuinely useful technology is invented to help property professionals, many of you on the high street will find consumers expect a better customer experience; they’ll want to see, feel and use the same tech that helps you.

As a digital-only publication, it fits well that Property Industry Eye should be the first to present the latest gains and fails in the world of Property Tech.

I have a personal interest in the world of property: my first job was as a Saturday sales assistant at Hamptons in Wimbledon and I’ve grown up with a family-run lettings and management business based in south-west London.

Even from early days, I felt compelled to do more to help people: much of what we did was ‘traditional’.

We had our own stock to let and so did the 45 other agencies in Clapham Junction, which meant a renter’s best chance to find a home was to walk into every single agency, register, and hope for a phone call.

Rightmove, as we all know, is full of inaccuracy and phantom listings that we now know of as the #portaljuggling phenomenon.

I thought there had to be a better way for people to find a home, and for agency owners to serve their client landlords.

Turning to technology I came up with, launched and trialled a ‘lettings auction’ called Wigwamm.

Suffice to say it didn’t work out as I had envisaged. While in theory the process was great for agency owners, landlords and tenants, there is an army of lettings agents who would have to be appeased.

And with the prospect of not being needed in the future, they weren’t pleased.

Wigwamm, too, is in that aforementioned graveyard of fanciful ideas.

So with both a property agency and a Proptech background, I write about the intersection of property and technology with a critical eye.

I’ll be looking to share both technology that enables property professionals to provide a better service – what we are terming AgentTech – and those companies that are looking to disrupt the place of agents in the property transaction.

To those agents who are fans of technology, please share what you have been using and your experiences.

For those who aren’t technologies’ biggest fans, it would be great to hear what technology has been marketed your way and why you didn’t think it would fit with your business.

rayhan@wigwamm.com

077 95 27 35 52

rayhan

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19 Comments

  1. Robert May

    On so many levels this is a pleasure to read; kicking off with a ‘How do you do?’ introduction ought to be the basic courtesy afforded to the readership,  so for that I applaud  and thank you for your respect in explaining  who you are and why you are obviously well qualified to edit this particular subject.

    This idea of a Tech graveyard  might be an indication of the problem with technology for agents, most Proptech is  benchmarked ideas that are being forced onto agents with little or no regards for the needs of agents. Some of the good stuff is simply too early and other stuff is just wrong. Developing tech is easy but that is only about 10% of what is required to serve the property industry well.

     

     

     

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    1. RayhanProptech85

      Thanks for your thoughts Robert.

      As a genuine veteran of Proptech, it’s always interesting to hear your thoughts.

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  2. mrharvey

    An excellent read and a welcome addition. Technology is of increasing importance in every industry so it will be good to get some expert coverage as and when the next big thing/flash in the pan comes about.

     

    Welcome, Rayhan.

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    1. RayhanProptech85

      Thank you very much for the kind welcome.

      While I’ve often been disappointed by the technology being offered, I am genuinely positive about what technology can do for the world of property.

      If you have any thoughts or tips on what matters to you, please do share.

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  3. Mark Walker

    “If an agent tells you they’ll sell your home for less, they really are telling you they’ll sell your home for less.”

     

    Please may I steal this.  Asking for a friend.

     

    Staying at the forefront of proptech is how we REAL agents will help ourselves to be always head and shoulders above bedroom workers and one day kick portals in to touch.

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    1. RayhanProptech85

      Please, feel free to take what you read and share.

      While I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment of using tech to stay ahead, I’m a little more bullish on the portals.

      I believe they offer a valuable and (currently) relatively inexpensive way to market property.

      It’s the lack of control and uncertain future that leave the industry a little jittery.

      But here’s hoping honest reporting and industry engagement can pave the way to a positive future.

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  4. properlyproperty37

    How is someone who has never worked successfully in either estate agency or tech, or any other field from what I can see, qualified to write for such a well respected site as PIE? Surely the kind of jealous naysaying evident from his blog would be better suited to the Daily Mail??

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    1. RayhanProptech85

      I suppose I deserve this comment.

      Have I personally been successful in estate agency or tech? Not massively.

      Have I got genuine  and extensive experience in both? Absolutely.

      I’m happy for you to challenge what I write; without the discourse the motivation to write dwindles.

      If you see me ‘naysaying’ about a topic, please do offer a specific example or reason why I’m wrong.

      I’d like to be wrong if I’m being unfair or haven’t taken some important factor into consideration – so that I can learn and fix that point of view.

      And to be specific, I am bearish on the prospect of low-fee online agents because they offer neither a better service nor transparency; and at the same time bullish on high-fee, high-service agents – whether online or traditional.

      I like the prospects for Nested.com, as an example. They, when launched, are aiming to solve the pain of chains.

      That’s a noble cause any consumer or property professional can get behind.

      Of course we’re yet to see whether they can deliver on what they promise. As is the case with any endeavour.

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    2. Robert May

      I have a similar question; How is someone who has never worked successfully in either estate agency or tech, or any other field from what I can see, qualified to write tech for Agents? A lot of  people who Rayhan is honest about seem as if they have a brilliant idea for instant wealth and are disappointed when they’re not prepared to starve and struggle their way into the industry or simply respect agents as customers

      Do I guess Rayhan didn’t review your project too favourably?

       

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    3. Disillusioned

      Just being honest PP37, but as ‘welcomes’ go, I’ve seen better.

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    4. AgencyInsider

      That’s a pretty rude post properlyproperty37. How many feature writers and journalists do you think there are that have actual hand-on experience of the things they write about? Not many. Some of the most authoritative commentators in the world have never actually done the things they write about. So why single out this guy?

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    5. PeeBee

      properlyproperty37

      I guess we can look forward to your future input in respect of Mr Rafiq-Omar’s column.

      It is assumed by your post that you have the said “qualification” necessary to provide some balance if needed, in order that positive discussion and understanding can be achieved.

      In that respect I would ask that you and Mr Rafiq-Omar start the ball rolling by giving me your personal views on whether I should upgrade my present 0.3MP Hewlett Packard camera – or just stand closer to the property when I take the pictures?

      The floor is yours…

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  5. smile please

    Good to have you on board Rayhan,

    I look forward to any stories which benefit the agent and sellers as opposed to just services leaching off our industry and charge us for the privilege.

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  6. intouch display

    Great article and an interesting read. intouch display provide interactive through-glass touch screens to the estate agency sector, typically the public are steering away from the high street, our touch screens not only give a great focal point to build the agents brand and also enables the agency to capture prospective clients credentials when they are closed. We now have many testimonies confirming the screens give the agent a great point of difference between them and their competitors and help secure instructions. Our touch screens are not the means to all ends to bring the public back to the high street, however they do have a very positive effect for the agents and the high street.

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    1. PeeBee

      You should have submitted the comment after the first six words.

      The rest – you should be charged card rate for.

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  7. DDR1

    Welcome Rayhan, I look forward to reading your articles. Perhaps you could convince the powers that be to revive a tech show for agents we used to attend in Islington, can’t remember the name of it, but it was informative and actually gave you the opportunity to see the tech in action.

    Good luck.

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    1. Robert May

      That would be Bob and Henry’s Property Computer show,  I’m one of the few people to have done them all right back to those in Manchester Town Hall and  the Armoury in Leeds,  Queen Street,  Docklands, the Barbican and eventually Islington.

       

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  8. DDR1

    Thanks Robert, my memory is not that good.

     

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    1. PeeBee

      Comment of the week!

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