I spoke with Alicia, a property enthusiast who started as...Read More
Meet Kevin, the founder of Property Jigsaw. Property Jigsaw provides estate agents with a streamlined solution to taking 360 tours of residential and commercial properties. After 20 years in the industry, Kevin welcomed the opportunity to go out on his own to bring efficiency to an industry that he knows so well. Here’s his story:
Can you tell me about how you got into real estate?
I became an estate agent not because I woke up one day and thought this is a really good opportunity and I really want to be one, but my friend got me an interview. I got offered a job and that was it. This is when I was, uh, in my early twenties. I started off as a negotiator. I did that for a couple of years. I then moved up the ranks and became a valuer.
Then I moved to London and I became a manager of and agency in Shepherd’s Bush. And ever since then, I’ve, I’ve either run sales or lettings offices across Northwest London. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed more the London side of things to be honest. The level of work was more interesting, enjoyable and the market was better. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster over the last five years
I was an estate agent for over 20 years and I was let go because of the coronavirus, which obviously wasn’t great, but turned out okay, to be honest, I had had enough of it. It just all come at a bad time, but it was for the right reasons. In the last year and a half while I was working in my last job, running an office in Wilson, Greater London, I had spent a lot of time developing a platform that my friends set up. Which is a virtual tour platform. They are successfully working with some of the biggest companies in the Marine industry. That’s been working really well for them for the last three or four years.
They always wanted to move into the property industry and for the last year and a half I’ve been working with them to get the platform ready or closer to being ready for the property industry.
I’d been working with them so closely, it was just the right time for me to open up property jigsaw and start marketing to a very low level. As I said, we haven’t mocked formally or officially, but I’ve gone to my clients and contacts over the last year, few years. Um, and I’ve, I’ve got some of those onboard for virtual tours. So if there is business there, but it’s not the level that I needed to beat it, but, um, but yeah, I’m changing my tactics
Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
I’ve got my own company, I’m creating virtual tours for companies and estate agencies. It is a really hard sell because their view generally is that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Not that they don’t need it, they’re just not too keep on embracing technology. It’s the younger generation of agents that are a little bit more receptive, but I have found it very difficult, getting virtual tours into an estate agency bearing in mind, we haven’t marketed our company efficiently or anything yet. That obviously doesn’t help, but I’m coming off the back of three years of success. The platform itself is the number one virtual tool provider for the Marine industry.
Shocking because you think that now with everything we’d move more towards digital, you’d think that they’d be more open to getting virtual tours, they’re just taking a little longer to get there.
Some of them have gone down the digital road but there are 2 big companies out there already. It’s just not a practical industry because it takes so long for them to shoot and then to create tours. Although they promise a quick turnaround, it’s not. And once you you’re your tour you cannot manipulate it. From an estate agency background, it doesn’t work very well.
So all of that, again, in an ideal scenario for estate agents, you think that this is the market where virtual tours will take off because of the social distancing, and people are willing to be around each other. But again, this goes back to, it’s not a broken market because of the government have put protocols that all agents are breaking. So we’ve moved more towards catering towards developers that have multiple units.
And how has your success been with developers?
And the feedback has been amazing and this has something that the other platforms can’t do. My time isn’t spent traveling an hour to do a job for virtually nothing. I am able to cover and cater a much larger project at one time leading to a better use of my time. This is the angle that I’m going towards.
So I know you said that you guys do something differently. Can you tell me a little bit more about, um, what you do differently?
There are options they can do themselves. They can shoot the photos and upload them, and we build the tools or we can do everything for them. So with our platform, I’m probably more agile than any other platform out there. But there are still some development stages and phases that we’re going through so when someone wants something done, we were still able to manipulate it, to suit our clients. What we offer is a bespoke service for every client as well.
If someone wants a three 60 gallery, we can crack a gallery for them. If they want the full tour experience, we’ll create that they want floor plans, we’ll create the floor plans. And that is the main benefit with us is that it is a live platform. There’s no development needs for them to show 360 images on their own website galleries.
What is it that you are looking forward to in the new year?
Honestly, some normality, so we can get back to having a real chat rather than these virtual chats we’re doing. Although it probably goes against what I’m doing in terms of virtual tours, it would be nice to have some social sort social interaction and that for me, has been massively missed. From a business perspective I hope that education helps agents to realize that this is an advantage and a benefit to them rather than something that’s going to take something away from them.
There are some companies that use it, but they’re not using on every single property, but all it takes is for one company or agency, maybe one of the larger organization to embrace it with every property on their books. And then everyone else follows too.
What do you think is going to be one of the biggest changes in the way that estate agencies work in 2021?
I don’t think there are going to be many changes. If anything, the only change will not be the way that people do business in the industry. It will be a change of the market conditions, when the full extent of the pandemic and financial impact it has on the economy. I think this will determine everyone’s 2021 in the property industry.
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