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As the millennial generation edges into the housing market, Graeme Stirling, IT director at Miller Homes, says that the right tech is crucial to attracting this cohort of first-time buyers

Graeme Stirling

Given that two-thirds of people under 35 live in privately-rented homes, it’s perhaps not surprising that so many proptech innovations have been aimed squarely at this digitally-savvy market. Apps like Movebubble allow tenants to book viewings at available properties, while bill sharing tools such as Acasa and landlord rating sites have joined the likes of Zoopla, SpareRoom and Rightmove to help make the rental experience more streamlined and transparent.

But, according to the latest HomeOwners Survey, 71 per cent of UK adults (of all ages) aspire to home ownership, so it would surely make sense to create more solutions for the home buying sector. While technology will never replace the human interaction that is important when making such a significant purchase, it is helping to make the homebuying process easier.

Tech that makes home-buying easier is what will set house builders apart from the competition – and compared to the rental market, there are plenty of untapped opportunities. Of course, investing in a property requires far more commitment than ordering a pizza, booking a holiday or even securing a rental home online, but the principles are the same. Consumers now expect to access services at any time of day or night via a website with an easy-to-navigate and attractive user interface.

Miller Homes launched its online reservations system – the first of its kind in the industry – last year precisely in response to this growing appetite for convenience and flexibility. Although not limited to first-time buyers, it certainly appeals to this group of often time-pressed customers, who are already confident using digital technology.

It’s interesting to note that, according to our recent research, almost 85 per cent of people surveyed would reserve, or consider reserving, a new home online. The size of the purchase means buyers who use our service are not expected to put down their deposit nor sign a legally-binding contract until they have visited the sales centre in person – yet they can secure a home by submitting their details and paying the refundable reservation fee.

They can further speed up the process by using our Fast Track system, another industry first which enables customers to provide information required at the initial stage of the buying process via our website, including anti-money laundering checks, rather than having to visit the marketing suite.

Simple-to-use tools, such as a mortgage calculator, or a website portal that enables customers to tailor their searches and find out about incentives such as Help to Buy, mean our own buyers’ journey looks a lot different to when we launched our website 20 years ago. I’m now looking forward to what we as a company, and the wider industry, develops in the coming years.

For more information on Miller Homes, including its online reservations system, visit millerhomes.co.uk

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