Property buyers and sellers, including those from overseas, can now book viewings via text messages, in a ‘world first service and as clients are pre-vetted, there are no security issues, says UK online agency Hatched.co.uk
An online English and Welsh agency has launched a new ‘world first’ service for buyers and sellers who can book viewings by text messages.
The new system from Hatched.co.uk means that buyers and sellers – including those from overseas – can choose their own viewing times and dates via text messages.
In the United States, following recent tragic killings and attacks on realtors during viewings, many agencies are increasing security and administration checks,with some opting to carry guns or tasers; however, there has not been the same concern in the UK.
But the low-cost agency says it fully vets every buyer and regardless of any system used for making appointments, there is some risk of falsification.
Hatched Co-founder and Managing Director, Adam Day says the new service is particularly useful for foreign buyers and sellers.
He tells OPP Connect, “Overseas buyers and sellers can use the text messaging service. In fact, it will be more convenient for them to do so what with being in different time zones and having the ability to get confirmation straight away, rather than having to wait for the agent to open to confirm via the phone. However, we are still available via email and on the phone.”
Mr Day says Hatched still vets all buyers, who have to call in the first instance to request the viewing, so Hatched agents carry out all the same vetting procedures as ‘traditional’ agencies.
“This is the same ‘fail safe’ structure that high street agents have in place. Even in this day and age however, the vast majority of people enquire via one of the property portals using their contact system and this is also at risk of being falsified.
“Any estate agent in the world, regardless of which system they use, can fall foul of someone pretending to be someone they’re not. We don’t feel our new text messaging service increases the chances of that happening.”
Realtors across the United States are beefing up security following the killing of Arkansas real estate Beverly Carter, who was targeted for working alone, and Realtor Magazine has listed other attacks.
Mr Day believes the new service may be a world first. “The automated text messaging system for viewings is a first in estate agency in the UK, and perhaps in the world. I’ve certainly never come across anything like it.
“There are lots of agents who send out text messages to confirm a viewing but that’s easy; we have been doing the same for four years. We’re always looking to push the boundaries however, and this is an obvious next step.”
The automated text messaging service books in viewing appointments for sellers and buyers. The system recognises requests and auto-generates text messages with virtually no human interaction, yet retains the privacy of each party, the agency says.
Once the viewing is added to Hatched’s bespoke software system, it generates and sends a text to the client with a list of times that the potential buyer would like to view.
The vendor replies to the text with their preferred time, which then automatically sends a text message to the potential buyer, asking them to confirm with a simple ‘yes’, or ‘no’. Once the viewing time is confirmed, one last text is generated, which is sent to all parties to confirm the appointment.
This new system launched on a trial basis earlier this month and is already proving to be hugely efficient for Hatched agents, who are spending much less time chasing potential buyers to confirm viewings and saves time for clients.
“Our clients and potential buyers love it. We have reduced the need to chase potential buyers by 50% because they just reply ‘yes’ and turn up to the property.
“My concern when it launched was that ‘no-shows’ could have increased, but this hasn’t been the case at all. If anything, ‘no-shows’ have been reduced.”
Hatched is also claiming another industry first with the offer of a bespoke Google Adwords and Facebook pay per click (PPC) campaign for a client’s specific property for any clients that purchase a £99 ‘social & digital marketing’ package add-on.
These campaigns are designed to target buyers searching for specific property features and also target Facebook users based on demographic, location and the stage of their life they’re at.
“We’ve had an incredible uptake of this offering so far, with 21 packages sold in the first week of it launching. We can never be accused of just sticking the house on the internet and waiting for the phone to ring. We now go looking for and targeting buyers online based on their search criteria and demographic,” Mr Day explains.
“A buyer will sometimes search on Google before they go to Rightmove or Zoopla, because they will be searching for a property within a certain school catchment area, for example. We are researching relevant phrases on behalf of our clients, and getting potential buyers to see their homes before they even get to the big property portals.
“With Facebook PPC, we can target people within a mile of the property for sale, or based on the fact that someone has just had a baby or married, and might therefore be looking to move in the near future.”
Mr Day says he he amazed that no other agency has offered the service. “It shows how stuck in the dark ages estate agency is when a ‘little’ online estate agent like Hatched is the one making the biggest leaps in the industry.
“I have a disdain for any estate agency, especially the newer online agents that cut corners or put the business interests above those of the clients. We don’t. We’re a truly hybrid estate agency with honourable estate agency values, offering vastly reduced fees.”
“The most frustrating thing about the industry from my perspective is the lack of uptake of technology from the more traditional (or high street) estate agents, as well as the blatant disregard for their clients.”
By Adrian Bishop, Editor, OPP Connect