Home buying process to change “beyond recognition in the coming years”

New data has indicated that the majority of home buyers in the UK are using online methods to research property.

Ahead of the 83% global average, HSBC figures revealed that the proportion of UK house hunters utilising online channels for property research has reached 93%. Of those who had recently purchased a property, over half (51%) stated that they had begun by corresponding with an online estate agent as opposed to one in person.

According to HSBC, it may not be just searching for a property that is making the move online. Given the growing range of services that property websites are able to provide, the bank has stated that process time could be drastically reduced as a result, with conveyancing, financing and negotiation all taking place via digital means.

HSBC also feel that the shift online will largely be assisted through the development of artificial intelligence, with tasks such as personal data analysation and assessing lending criteria all helping to speed up the process.

Whilst the online buying process is growing in popularity, financial aspects are holding back the process from going completely digital. Of those surveyed who fit into the so-called ‘millenial’ demographic, more traditional services such as family and mortgage providers were favoured, at 46% at 41% respectively. In contrast, the concept of utilising artificial intelligence for mortgage advice was only embraced by 14%.

Forecasting the change that technology was starting to make on the home buying process was Tracie Pearce. The Head of Mortgages at HSBC stated: “The process of buying a home will change beyond recognition in the coming years. The market may not quite be ready for ‘robo advice’ but this type of service will, in time be helpful for the financially astute borrowers who need guidance through just a few steps of the mortgage process. There will still be those borrowers that desire face-to-face advice, or prefer to speak with an adviser over the telephone and lenders should look to provide home buyers with a choice of channels in line with their needs and preferences.”

Commenting on the impact that technology could have on property viewings was James Dearsley. The Property Technology expert highlighted the changes that virtual reality could bring to the market as well as changes to the role of the estate agent later down the line.

“Property websites will become considerably more sophisticated, using big data to bring more and better properties in front of prospective buyers and taking over much of the traditional estate agent’s role. There will be no more ‘fifteen minute windows’ to view a property. Virtual reality will allow home buyers to view more homes, narrow down their choice and then ‘live’ in a virtual version for several days to truly try before they buy.”

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