The future of estate agencies - Interview

Interview by Cosmo Sauve-Smith

DARREN, A BUDDING ESTATE AGENT AT WTF PROPERTY, TELLS US ABOUT THE NIGHTMARE OF A BIG BUNCH OF KEYS, AND WHY TECH LIKE VR WILL MEAN EVERYTHING WILL BE SELF-SERVE AND HE CAN JUST STAY IN THE OFFICE PISSING ABOUT ON THE INTERNET WITH GARY.

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HOW HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR BUSINESS CHANGE IN THE LAST 10 YEARS?

I hear years ago you used to have to know about the area and the history of the building, which blows my mind to be honest. These days you mainly have to know how to work a set of keys, but even that can be tricky sometimes. You never know how far the key has to go in or which way the lock turns. Most of the time I just ring the doorbell, put my hands in my pockets and hope for the best.

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED THE TRADITIONAL SIDE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

Obviously most of the work now is done on the internet. People see what they can just about afford if they stop going out or buying extravagances like fresh milk or deodorant, then they email us. Emails are far more convenient than phone calls because normally I’m spinning around on my chair whilst the lads film it in slow-motion or Gary’s wearing the waste paper basket on his head whilst I hit it with a wooden spoon. Emails mean I can get back to potential tenants to book a viewing at a time that’s convenient for me. I like to make people view flats at 3:10 pm on a Monday because then I can write the rest of the afternoon off and go home. Technology’s brilliant.

WHAT TRENDS HAVE YOU OBSERVED IN 2017/18?

We used to only show properties online that were available, but now we leave them up there long after they’ve gone so people call us about them. When they enquire about them I can “check” and let them know that it’s “literally just gone” and then tell them about a “similar property “nearby” that’s “close” to their budget. Once they’ve stopped whimpering, I get their details. For every 10 new client details, we get we get a free Nando’s from the boss. I’m chicken rich mate.

A FEW YEARS AGO THERE WERE A BUNCH OF WEBSITES THAT WENT UP THAT TOLD PEOPLE THEIR TENANCY RIGHTS. THAT WAS A BLOODY NIGHTMARE!

WHAT TECHNOLOGY ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT IMPLEMENTING TO YOUR CORE OFFERING?

I’d say VR so people can view the properties without us having to do anything whatsoever. They’ll be able to go in and see the entire property, but without the debilitating smell of mould.

WHAT DOES THE ESTATE AGENT OF THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

Gary says within 10 years we’re all be living in a computer, so who knows mate. I read that what with global warming we’ll all be able to grow wine in our gardens, so somewhere between the two I imagine. It’s hard to picture, but that’s for the government to decide.

CAN YOU THINK OF ANOTHER TIME WHEN INNOVATION HAD A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR INDUSTRY?

A few years ago there were a bunch of websites that went up that told people their tenancy rights. That was a bloody nightmare! Had people calling us up like “Oh mahrrrr, you can’t have a shower in a kitchen” or “The landlord’s installed cameras in my bedroom.” It’s like ‘Give it a rest mate, there’s children dying in Africa and you’re complaining about this? Get some perspective mate.’

WHAT WORRIES YOU AT NIGHT?

Did you ever see that bit at the end of Men In Black where the world is really just in a marble being played with by bigger aliens? Proper fucked me up.

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO POSITIVELY IMPACT REVENUE TARGETS/SALES WITH INNOVATIVE THINKING?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha nice one mate.