Will face-to-face dealings disappear from real estate?

There is no doubt that technology is having an impact on every area of both private lives and business lives. From the news to e-commerce, research to buying real estate and beyond, there is no area of everyday life that technology has not touched. However, will the good old-fashioned face-to-face dealings eventually disappear from the real estate sector?

Personal relationships

While you can obviously chat on the phone, Skype and use many other forms of communication, can you really beat good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings? When quizzing somebody about a potential property purchase it is not always what they say but sometimes what they don’t say or even how they say it. Are they hiding something from you? Might they accept a lower offer? It is difficult to tell these things via online communication and even the perfect Skype meeting may not show the tell-tale signs of facial expressions.

Negotiating the best deal

Whether you are looking at mortgage brokers, real estate agents or a private property transaction, very often negotiations can be resolved quicker with a face-to-face meeting. Email ping-pong, text messages, endless Skype meetings and other forms of communication don’t always work. If you have a personal relationship with the seller, or party representing the seller, it can sometimes be easier to close the deal. No simple tick box exercises seen with online negotiations, good old-fashioned face-to-face chatting and negotiating. A type of old-school sparring…..

Every percentage point counts

Whether you are able to negotiate a lower price for a property purchase or perhaps trim half a percent of so off your headline mortgage rate, this all falls down to your bottom line. For those investors looking to invest millions of pounds, relatively small percentage savings can have a huge impact on their overall financial liability. If you go down the online route, where negotiating can be more difficult, it does end up like a tick box system. The seller/mortgage provider has a firm line which they would not cross and very quickly that will likely become clear. Face-to-face negotiations are different; you can discuss various issues, why you believe the price/rate should be lower and maybe even offer an element of cash to close the deal quickly. You have more options.

Online advertising

One area where the Internet certainly brings a wealth of benefits to both buyers and sellers is the huge online advertising market available literally at the click of a button. Due to the relatively low base cost of online advertising and the extreme competition there will be some great deals around, if you negotiate!

We only need to look at the rise and fall of Upad, previously the U.K.’s largest online landlord services company, to see how this can all go terribly wrong. When faced with a choice of reducing base prices or adding additional services, the company chose to reduce the cost of basic membership/services. The idea was that they would add on different services to increase their income and profitability. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way – the race to the bottom saw them hit hard in the pocket.


There is no doubt there are huge benefits to moving real estate and connected services online. The ability to research and read information 24/7 rather than having to make time through the day is a godsend for many investors. However, when it comes to good old-fashioned negotiations, can you really beat a face-to-face meeting? Surely you can negotiate a better deal once you see the whites of their eyes?

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