Almost every time I see Monty at least part of the conversation is about how technology is integrating into the mortgage broking industry. The names are familiar to those in the business, making ambitious claims for customer journeys.
The similarities in the estate agency industry are many and have been going for a bit longer. Thoughts two or three years ago pointed to the possibility of complete property transactions being done online allowing, theoretically, estate agent free transactions – or at least with significantly lower fees.
I may have missed the TV advertising from digital mortgage brokers but it’s been impossible to miss the tens of millions of pounds spent by the online estate agents. This exposure has created even more of a conversation around how much can be digitised and as the debate, and indeed customer experience, has panned out the received wisdom is that you simply can’t go through such a complicated and emotional process without human help.
In the estate agency sector it helps explain why third largest chain LSL have dropped £20m into YOPA alongside Savills, The Guild of Professional Estate Agents, an 800 strong organisation of independent agents, have done a deal with Easy Property and numerous well funded companies like Onedome have produced clever direct/hybrid platforms that allow independent agents to offer the public a direct ‘DIY’ route. All of the above imply that for large numbers of those who decide to go direct and save money they find the entire process too much to handle and at some point in the process want to ‘go human’ and are happy to pay for the privilege.
As someone who’s gone through the achingly painful process of getting a mortgage both direct and broker assisted I can attest to the advantage of a knowledgeable human interface. From what I can gather it seems like the digital mortgage providers have rowed back a little and appear to be injecting humans back in at the right points in the journey.
It does seem like the development is mirroring that of the agency world and it’ll be a very interesting one to watch, but whether buying a house or a mortgage, humans still need to be a part of it.