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Could Technology Replace My Job in Property?

By: Emma Eilbeck BA (hons) - Updated: 3 Oct 2011 | comments*Discuss
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With any job or profession that you enter into, there is a risk that one day your role will be made redundant as technology takes over and the firm looks to increase its reliance on technology and replaces your job with a computer or automated system in a bid to cut costs.

This trend is evident in many workplaces, such as retailers that allow self-service and banks that have replaced cashiers with online banking or self-service machines and to some extent the property world is no stranger to this.

Some sectors of the property market run the risk more than others of becoming extinct by developments in technology and a reliance on the internet and computers. But the good thing about property is that it all still comes down to bricks and mortar, which cannot be replaced by any technology - no matter how good.

Jobs that run the risk of being replaced

There will always be a need for the role that surveyors and valuers play in the property chain. Chartered surveyors will always be in demand as peoples’ homes and work spaces will need evaluated for potential problems and to check properties meet building regulations. A lot of what a chartered surveyor does cannot be replicated by technology because it is very hands on, looking at the structure of the building and assessing it.

However the role of the valuer is becoming increasingly restricted because of the use of technology. Valuers are still required when it comes to selling a home or commercial property but many of their skills are being replaced. For example, if somebody is selling their home or remortgaging it a valuer historically would have been sent around to the house to view the property and value it based on their knowledge of the area and experience of selling similar properties.

But increasingly valuations are being carried out online based on historic data, meaning many properties are viewed without anyone ever having stepped inside, a valuer is only then called if the homeowner thinks the property has been undervalued.

The role of the estate agents

Love them or loathe them, estate agents will always play a part in the selling of properties but with the online era well and truly here more and more people are turning to the internet to buy their home and office space.

The same can also be said of renters, for many people who are not in close proximity to where they are buying or renting, virtual tours and photos of the property are often enough to satisfy them that the property is the right one. Many houses are rented out and bought over the internet on special forums set up by the renter or seller, eliminating the role of the middle man.

But the good news is that for the majority of buyers and sellers nothing still compares to looking around a property and checking it out in person, so the part technology plays will always be limited. When it comes to selling homes people are also increasingly logging on online with online property auctions becoming more popular in recent times, which ultimately cut down on the number of people in the house buying and selling process.

Roles where technology has not taken a hold

There are of course many roles in the property world that will never be replaced by technology. Jobs such as builders, project managers, surveyors, solicitors and engineers will always be needed to make the process go smoothly.

In many parts of the property market, technology is more of a help than a hindrance, for example the role of the architect. Although many manual drawings are still used an increasing amount of the design and structure of a building is worked out online, making it easier and translate to others. A lot of surveyors and architects will no longer work from blue prints and everything will be designed and structured using computer programmes which help create a visual image.

Advancements in technology have created a double edged sword for many firms. On the one hand it can improve efficiency and cut down on costs, but on the other hand it can take away the personal element to the job and sometimes not produce as accurate results.

If you are thinking about embarking on a career in property you are in no immediate danger of being replaced with a computer, but it is worth keeping in mind that the role you might picture yourself doing may involve you sitting behind a computer screen more than it does you working with hands on with property.

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