It may sound counterintuitive, but when it comes to moving I’d argue the internet has become a hindrance. Everyone thinks they’re a property expert; a plethora of dubious stats, endless subjective historic – and hysteric – online data and an ever more tempting set of search filters has created the impression that your perfect property is just a few clicks away.
Before the internet, all you needed was an idea of where you wanted to live. Human interaction bridged the gap and sorted out what you wanted from what you actually needed, which are often two very different things.
Searching online through two monolithic advertisers directs narrow search results to estate agents’ inboxes, rendering them as mere keyholders stacking their diaries with appointments, rather than advisers to help you with this most important life choice. Summoning the nous to ask their clients prospective questions about their situation, and directing them towards what would best accommodate their needs is now a secondary consideration given their employer’s financial imperative.
The net result is an inexorable slide towards the lowest common denominator that, at its nadir, attempts to remove human contact altogether. Technology isn’t a universal panacea for property in the way buying “fast moving consumer goods” is.
Better presentation and access to data is a good thing, especially if it helps buyers grasp the esoteric legal processes involved in the conveying of a property from seller to buyer. But it’s clearly much easier to make money by automating the selling process, than it is to make a profit from useful technology that demystifies the data and terminology for the buyer.
In this situation, the putative advantages technology brings can end up working against those who thought they’d benefit from it.