Are we seeing a shift away from estate agents with new home buyers now going online instead?

More than half of home buyers now go online instead of using an estate agent, research from HSBC has revealed that more than half (51%) of recent home buyers started talking to an estate agent online as opposed to in person.
An increasing number of buyers and sellers are going online to feel more in control and make the purchase process easier.
HSBC said that the stress of dealing with the many people involved in the home buying process – including estate agents, solicitors, sellers and developers – was pushing home owners online.
The rise of property websites offering financing, negotiation and conveyancing services could also see the future entire home buying process reduced to just a matter of days, HSBC said.
Property technology experts, predicts that property will be the next industry to face disruption, with property websites using technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality to transform each stage of the home purchase.
Property websites will become considerably more sophisticated, using big data to bring more and better properties in front of prospective buyers and taking over much of the traditional estate agent’s role.
There will be no more ‘fifteen minute windows’ to view a property. Virtual reality will allow home buyers to view more homes, narrow down their choice and then ‘live’ in a virtual version for several days to truly try before they buy.
Despite the digital trend, there is still reluctance to fully digitise the home buying experience, particularly when it comes to finance.
Traditional sources such as mortgage brokers, mortgage providers and family remain the most trusted sources of mortgage advice amongst consumers.
Only 14% of consumers embrace the idea of using robo-advisers for mortgage advice, according to HSBC’s recent Trust in Technology survey.
The process of buying a home will change beyond recognition in the coming years. The market may not quite be ready for ‘Robo Advice’ but this type of service will, in time be helpful for the financially astute borrowers who need guidance through just a few steps of the mortgage process.
There will still be those borrowers that desire face-to-face advice, or prefer to speak with an adviser over the telephone and lenders should look to provide home buyers with a choice of channels in line with their needs and preferences.