There has been a quiet revolution in the way people approach buying property in recent years.
It reflects a new breed of technologically savvy consumers who look beyond sales-speak and promises to carry out their own detailed research.
It’s believed that around 91% of people in the UK now own a mobile phone. These ever-present devices mean that house buyers have a way of checking facts and verifying claims at their fingertips and even in transit.
Millennials, more than any previous generation, have grown up with a questioning nature and the capability to be far more demanding and discerning with their purchasing power.
This is partly fallout from the political, social and financial uncertainty of recent times. House buying has always been a daunting prospect, but it now comes with an extra dose of caution and also a healthy dollop of scepticism.
The shop-around generation
The British – often referred to as a nation of shopkeepers – has always made a virtue of being thrifty and only reluctantly parting with their money. But the internet has taken the trend for wise spending to a whole new level.
Aggregated websites – those which search for information on your behalf – are part and parcel of this new emphasis on shopping around. Instead of comparing two or three quotes for insurance products, for example, consumers can now compare and contrast dozens of offerings with a click of a button.
You really don’t need to take the first price offered these days. In fact, Brits are far more willing to haggle and are ready and able to gather evidence to back up negotiations.
Far more chances to voice grievances
Have you also noticed how much quicker the British are to criticise and judge customer service and the things they purchase?
The days of stoically “putting up” with things – employing the iconic British stiff upper lip – are on their way out.
From major household purchases and holidays to their burgers and fries, if the British aren’t happy then these days they shout it loud and proud. The abundance of review sites has either reflected or stimulated this trend – one of the most prominent being TripAdvisor.
And of course, sharing on social media means consumers have the power to “trash” reputations all too easily.
House buyers more focused
So how does this move towards far more thorough research – and the impassioned drive for value – affect house buying?
Recent research showed that for one thing, buyers are a great deal more efficient in hunting down their perfect property. They do online research on such things as location and local infrastructure, which means they don’t look at as many houses in person as they used to.
And of course, online you can enjoy 360-degree images of properties before you visit. It could be they spot something they don’t like and it puts them off an actual real-life viewing.
Though the numbers of people looking for property to buy is still at a healthy level, their list of demands and their systematic appraisal of houses is keener (and meaner).
So, anyone selling property has to know their stuff when it comes to responding to queries and accompanying house viewings – though those viewings may increasingly be few and far between.
What does the future hold for house buying?
What is the upshot of these changes in the property market? Will technology and the increasingly savvy consumer further mould the face of house-buying for property buyers?
Well, some pundits would have you believe that virtual reality headsets and even drones will one day become commonplace house-hunting tools!
Do you remember the Pokemon Go craze? The applications of that sort of technology also include digitally “flagging” properties for sale. Which means that the physical For Sale sign could be replaced by beacon signage, picked up by wearable technology and smartphones.
House buyers may well be able to drive around an area, hunting for a four-bedroomed semi with a garden, tracking down the appropriate digital signage beacons.
There is another potential technological advancement in house-hunting too. Just as hi-tech hotels can now check guests in and give them room access remotely via their smartphones, one day, house buyers may be able to book a property viewing, then receive a digital access code to let them straight into the house to look around – no human interaction required.
Another potential future development? The advent of Big Data means prediction software is on its way to being able to use all our online habits to locate and suggest our dream property.
If this all seems a little too futuristic, then it is certain that increasingly demanding buyers will drive the need for more responsive software. It won’t be long before scrolling down a website to look at photos – filtered on a limited range of fields such as price and numbers of bedrooms – will seem old fashioned.
People will want fingertip profiles on properties that include a wealth of information before they will even consider viewing them in person.
While a lot of this is speculation, there is no debate that selling property to increasingly demanding buyers is keeping those in the real estate market on their toes. Consider, a quick house sale today, if your too overcome the increasing headaches of finding a buyer.