PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: OnTheMarket’s new AI Partnership | Agents Suited & Booted No More?

Andrew Stanton’s daily Property News Briefing in association with Estate Agent Networking.

OnTheMarket adds crystal clarity through its Autoenhance tie-up

Jason Tebb CEO of OnTheMarket, has just announced yet another commercial tie up with a supplier that will enhance the quality of inventory placed on the portal., as the name suggests, enhances property images at lightning speed, giving agents and vendors the edge over photography that is not so eye-catching, an important gambit in the fast-moving digital age buyers and renters live in.

I know only too well that potential tenants or buyers look at the property first, and the face and interior and garden photography can excite or dismay a potential buyer, so the ability to digitally airbrush a poorly shot image can mean the difference of thousands of pounds and weeks more on the market not being sold.

Before Autoenhance
After Autoenhance

With 50% of all viewings taking place on a property in the first 14 days of its life on the market, it is essential that images are the very best, and if they are not, Adrian Gill and Jamie McInally’s tool will rectify that. 

For a period, to allow agents to see how good the service actually is, member agents of OnTheMarket will be able to use Autoenhance for free and utilise it for numerous images per property listed. 

As Jason Tebb comments, the service saves agents time and money, making them more efficient and able to focus on core agency activities. 

He said: “Professional quality imagery is both time consuming and expensive to produce, yet of course is essential for all property marketing activities, not just on portal listings but on their own websites and on social media.

“Agents who want to take their own images have had a choice of outsourcing to professional photo editing companies or relying on a member of their team who was well-versed with specialist editing software and who had hours free to spend editing images, as well as doing their day job.

“Now, the Autoenhance team has harnessed AI technology to provide a platform that provides property professionals with results instantly, saving them both money and time.”

According to the company website, Autoenhance is all about giving agents a material edge. It explains that “Jamie McInally (CEO) is a data scientist who grew up using AI to manipulate photographs. Adrian Gill (Chairman) is a residential property veteran. Together they founded Autoenhance to deliver instant photo enhancements for marketing businesses with an initial focus on property photos.“We recognise that commercial marketeers want better quality enhancements, and they want them as fast as possible. Not only can Autoenhance.AI deliver these, but they will also be cheaper than manual enhancements.”

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Has the pandemic changed what agents wear at work?

As everyone has been like a somnambulist, sleepwalking through the surreal landscape of the last two years, I have recently been contacted by a number of agent owners asking my take on what is the correct way for them and their teams to dress. 

The video conference culture of dressing gowns, no haircuts and less formal ways of doing business is now percolating down to estate agents who of course are famed for their high-fashion suits and business dress, with the average agent being 24-years old, so typically dressing to impress.

One call I had last week was with an owner of a ten-branch agency. He said that many in his team wanted to move away from the suited look, some because they had for so long been working from home, others because they think that the public can feel more at home with talking to someone who does not dress as their dad did.    

Personally, I remember about two and a half years ago, the debate raged over whether or not agents should still wear ties, but that was before Covid tore up the rule book about a lot of things, including how we live and work. 

© Channel 4

By 2030 will any agents still be in formal attire? Or will all agents be mirroring the style changes in other industries? I still have many suits hanging up in my wardrobe, and if I am on a panel or doing a conference, I put one on. 

Otherwise, when working from home and on about eight video calls a day, for sure it is a much more casual look. Does this change how much business I do? I think not. If the service level is high, it is the results clients want, not to see me beaming away in a three-piece suit. 

And, if I were operational at branch level now, I think that my view would be ‘smart casual’ rather than suited and booted.

The case is true especially for estate agents, as they are extroverts and maybe that blue suit culture has done its thing. Perhaps the way for agents to differentiate themselves is in the way they dress. 

There has always been a divide on what agents wear, from agencies in London to the shires, agencies catering for all of the market, agencies looking after the top end, or agencies doing huge volume in lesser priced property areas. 

In another lifetime I used to say that it was important that my agents always looked professional and wore clothes that would not frighten dear Mrs Jones when you went to give her a market appraisal at her bungalow.

Now hopefully we are 2022 PC (post-covid) maybe it is time for a reset about how agents should look, and embrace the views of the teams. Staff retention will also continue to be a huge topic for most agencies through 2022 and beyond, and however simple it may seem, this plays a part.

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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