In these early stages of a business, I’m always looking for problems, not solutions. By going under the hood of these kinds of issues, I feel I can then add an objective view of the industry to the best effect.
What struck me was the extent to which agents are savvy operators. And it reinforced my vision that our role is to create the right tools and the right data capabilities to continue to grow their businesses and manage them more effectively.
There are a lot of things that excite me right now, both in the real estate industry at large and here at Zoopla. For our part, we are investing heavily in data science and predictive analytics – using all the signals from our vast digital fleet so that we can identify the best homes for consumers and the best leads for our clients.
This is the best way for us to leverage our unique range of portals, software and data assets to drive growth throughout the lifecycle of real estate property.
It is particularly important for us to invest in our experience as a supplier. The pandemic has boosted demand in the housing market, but not supply, and returning the first buyer’s engine to the market alone in 2021 will not solve this.
Thus, we know that to properly execute our strategy of supporting agent growth, our priority must be to find new ways to find quality prospects that our clients can act on.
We believe that there is an opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves further, both with current and future suppliers. By giving them reasons to come back to Zoopla time and time again throughout the lifecycle of the property, connecting them to the value of their home and giving them that extra push to move.
In terms of technology, the change in the real estate industry has been gradual over the past decade, when you compare it to other industries.
When you consider that the iPhone is only slightly older than that, you get a sense of the potential for technology to drive new, positive changes in the real estate industry.
Rapidly evolving technology touches every aspect of consumers’ lives – from Uber, to Deliveroo, to Peloton. And while we don’t suggest that buying a three-bedroom semi-trailer is the same as buying a pizza, customer expectations for a seamless digital shopping journey for everything are the same.
To make this a reality for the real estate industry, we need people. One of my priorities since joining has been to build a world-class product and technology team.
And now we have, in my opinion, the best tech talent in London. Our team was voted the ninth best Hired tech company to work for in the capital, ahead of heavy hitters like Google and Twitter.
One of the priorities of this extended team over the past year has been “plumbing”. That is, rebuilding our basic infrastructure so that we can build around it, preparing for the next phase of Zoopla’s growth.
Now that we’ve completed that, we’re able to roll out new features more frequently and faster.
At the same time as this speed, it is absolutely fundamental that the delivery of our new functionalities be done in close collaboration with our partners.
We need to make sure that everything we build reflects their specific needs. In addition to helping them attract new suppliers, we need to work on new ways to help our partners increase their efficiency by having more of their tools in one place. We need to help them generate a better ROI from their marketing spend.
One way to do this is to use our product advisory committee. I really encourage officers to join in and have their voices heard. We want to hear the good, the bad, the ugly.
We will give agent partner program access early enough that we are able to incorporate their feedback into the form of product development.
Our mission is to put power in the hands of agents and control at our fingertips – both in terms of how we interact with them and what we build for them.
* Dave Wascha is Director of Product and Technology at Zoopla