Social distancing-friendly tools help agents to deliver comprehensive valuations

The ValPal Network has launched a new tool to help estate and letting agents provide prospective clients with detailed market appraisals during the lockdown period and while social distancing rules remain in place.

When requesting an instant online valuation, consumers can now upload images of their property. This means prospective sellers and landlords can receive a more accurate virtual valuation from their chosen agent.

The Network, which represents over 800 agency brands with more than 4,000 offices, says the majority of its tools for agents have been very useful during the ongoing lockdown period and will continue to be if some form of social distancing remains in place over the coming months.

Alongside instant online valuations and the photo uploader tool, agents can target prospects who don’t fill the valuation form in full and use ‘Before You Go’ sliders as additional touchpoints to help maintain their databases and generate more leads.

The Network says that while the market is in hiatus, agents need to drive traffic using social media advertising, convert this traffic using instant online valuation tools and then nurture leads until prospects are ready to take action.

How does the photo uploader work?

When a prospective client requests an instant online valuation on an agent’s website, they can now upload up to 10 images of their property to provide the agent with more information.

The agent can download the images from their ValPal dashboard to get a better idea of the property’s features and condition. The new feature can help agents to prioritise leads as those who upload photos are likely to be the most serious prospects.

Consumers are also invited to upload images after they have received their online valuation if they want the agent to provide them with a more detailed overview of their property and current local market trends.

“In the current market, the more information agents can get from prospective clients, the more accurate and useful their virtual valuations will be. This could encourage consumers to push ahead with selling or letting their property in the coming months,” says Craig Vile, Director of The ValPal Network.

“It’s important for agents to show consumers that they are still operating and tech-enabled. And, when the lockdown period ends, there is a high possibility that innovations such as virtual viewings and valuations will remain popular as some form of social distancing seems likely to remain in place until at least the end of the year.”

Why all agents should have a chatbot

The ValPal Network says the coronavirus crisis should have pushed agents to realise that they need a chatbot on their website if they don’t already. With offices closed for the time being, agencies need to use as many tools as possible to capture the contact details of people visiting their ‘virtual office’.

“Our tool, ChatPal, uses predesigned scripts to cover any given scenario, converting prospective vendor and landlord traffic into leads,” Vile explains.

“Although we specifically target vendors and landlords, we still speak to buyers as we know many of them may also be looking to sell a property.”

“The knock-on effects of Covid-19 have shown that agents need to be equipped with the technology to operate remotely and have the processes in place to continue generating leads even when the market is paused.”

“We don’t know when things will truly return to ‘normal’, so having lead magnets such as chatbots and instant online valuations are crucial for agents at the moment and moving forward when they’ll need to make up for lost time and get transactions moving.”

Automation can help while staff are furloughed

Over the last few weeks, many estate agencies have had to furlough members of staff, including high-profile firms such as Foxtons and Knight Frank.

With lots of agencies operating on a skeleton staff for the next few weeks, it could be hugely beneficial to automate as many back office services as possible, says Vile.

He suggests this can allow agencies to operate efficiently and effectively, keeping things ticking over until such times as the majority of staff can return.

“Even after staff return from furlough, automating parts of the back office allows agents to have the best people front of house,” he says.

“Making these changes now is important to futureproof the industry and could have a huge positive impact when the full agent workforce returns.”

You can find out more about The ValPal Network’s full suite of services here.