Following two years of development, estate agent Sherry FitzGerald has launched a new interactive digital hub. Designed for clients who prefer to conduct their business online, it's the agent's first step towards a more digital customer experience.
Developed at a cost of €1.4 million this first phase allows users register with mySherryFitz, a password-protected area of the sherryfitz.ie website, which provides clients with a "digital dashboard" for all their dealings with the agent.
The online platform will focus initially on buyers, allowing them to book property viewings 24/7 via the agents’ digital diaries, and engage in online chat and direct messaging with agents.
The most significant innovation is that prospective buyers can now view the latest offers on properties they are interested in and make their own offers. Qualifying bidders need to be pre-cleared by the agent in order to access this information and approval will be given when proof of funds documents are uploaded to the site.
Similarly old world rules will prevail when it comes to accepting bids and final offers, ie the agent will consult with the vendor, before proceeding. The advantage is that buyers can move the process along in their own time rather than relying on traditional office hours in which to make contact with the agent.
On the seller side, Joanne Geary, director of marketing and digital transformation with Sherry FitzGerald, says the vendor login area will launch next spring. Features will allow sellers engage directly with agents to arrange timings for photography, brochure details, property viewings and make payments.
This week Dublin-based agent, Hunters, said it was developing an online platform to speed up the sales process by requiring title documents and sales contracts to be in order on their bidding platform prior to sale. Currently property sales can take up to seven months between going sale agreed and final contracts exchange. However Geary says Sherry Fitz won’t be addressing this end of the process on its portal any time soon: “The conveyance process is the big hurdle where transactions slow down. We are bringing the selling process online to a point, but solicitors need to kick in then to move the contract stage on. As an industry this is something we would all welcome.” Ball firmly in solicitors’ court then.