When was the last time you peered into the window of an estate agents and spent time browsing the properties on offer?
Neal Jannels is managing director of One Mortgage System (OMS)
When was the last time you peered into the window of an estate agents and spent time browsing the properties on offer? And when was the last time you had a nosy – sorry undertook some serious research – on a property portal?
If you’re anything like me I can’t actually remember the last time I spent more than three seconds lingering outside a local estate agency, but I can easily recall browsing houses on the internet.
Now that's not to say there's no longer any need for estate agents to maintain a high street presence, far from it, it simply underlines how technology has changed the way we do certain things.
I say this after reading that visits to Rightmove surpassed 150 million for the first time in January, making it the busiest month ever recorded. There were said to be over 152 million visits to the property portal in January, a 7% increase on January 2019.
The top five busiest days ever on Rightmove were all said to be between 21 and 29 January, with Wednesday 29 topping the list.
There were reported to be over 5.7 million visits on that day, up 9% on the previous record set back on 24 April 2019. Time spent by home hunters on the site was up 4%, with people spending a total of 1.17 billion minutes on there.
These are pretty remarkable numbers and ones which should have intermediaries salivating at the prospect of rising activity levels, especially in the lead up to a usually active late Winter/early Spring period.
As the intermediary market gears up for this busy period, it's a great time to reassess how technology can help advisers to become more efficient and better service the shifting property-related needs of their clients. Simplifying the mortgage journey is a huge ongoing task for all links in the mortgage chain.
Intermediaries and borrowers need greater levels of support to help not only streamline the application process (where possible) but to also ensure that affordability calculations and important eligibility issues are met. And eligibility is something I would like to focus a little more on.
Technology is an obvious source of assistance for the eligibility process - from an intermediary and client perspective - and there are a range of online tools to enhance this journey. For example, we recently integrated UK Credit Ratings into our live platform.
This allows advisers to offer additional value by enabling clients to have a clearer picture of their current financial footprint, whilst being armed with more information to source the right types of solutions to meet their borrowing requirements.
The end result will be a more robust education process regarding credit ratings, how to help clients better manage them, a higher application to completion rate and less administrative burdens.
Two-way APIs can also play an increasingly important role in terms of offering customers more certainty and clearer information about their product eligibility, even if they have unusual requirements or a poor credit rating.
This simplification process still has some way to go, but we are getting there. And technology will continue to drive this issue over the short, medium and longer term.