Here's how you're going to find your next property

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By Gil Sperling, Co-CEO and Co-Founder: Flow Living

There's a massive element of trust required in buying a property, largely because of the value of the transaction - in terms of the purchase price and associated costs, as well as the fact that you will be contributing about a third of your monthly income to bond repayments for the next 20 years. It's your home, your livelihood and your family wrapped up into one transaction, with plenty of moving parts.

You're part of a new generation of digital natives who are used to engaging with the world in ways that the previous generation wasn't. You communicate differently, share differently - primarily online and via social networks. You also engage with businesses differently, completing online purchases, signing up for subscription services, messaging businesses rather than calling and chatting to ChatBots as opposed to people, to source information about the business. You trust the online world because you understand it.

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Those changing trends have an effect on every industry - and the property industry is not immune to this change. There are myriad processes in place across the property purchase process to standardise and check it - governance, accreditation, the Deeds Office, conveyancers and the like. While the property world is mired in paperwork and red tape, it will remain archaic - and something of an alien world to your digital-first generation. There's a disconnect between the way you like to research and complete transactions because of the way the real estate industry is set up.

It'll come as no surprise to you when you start seeing ads and content related to things you've researched or clicked through on social media platforms - it's the norm, but it's also only useful if it's constructive and furthers your interests. Lately, that is becoming especially prevalent as you've started to look at properties to buy or rent. You're starting to have relevant listings show up in your feed - in the areas you're looking at, in your price range and matching your requirements. You're also seeing details of agents who are experts in those areas and who have properties on their books that match what you're looking for.

This retargeting is facilitated by Flow, a local proptech company which helps match agents or developers and consumers with relevant information about properties. Once you've shown an interest in something property-related, Flow's tech retargets you with relevant, personalised content and listings. You're not seeing properties on the other side of the country that are out of your price range - they match what you're looking for. The tech also matches you with the right, tech-savvy agents and developers who are experts in those chosen areas, who can help you find the kind of property you're looking for.

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This is all done anonymously, because retargeting simply tracks your behaviour online and matches content to things you've shown an interest in - it's relevant and helpful. It's only at the point where you submit an enquiry about a property that an agent or developer receives your contact details - meaning it's also Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) compliant.

Once you've initiated contact about a property with an agent or developer, they receive your preferred contact detail - and it's up to them to embrace that instantaneous connection by reaching out to you to see how they can help, with relevant information and listings that match your needs. If you're getting cold calls from an agent asking about your property requirements, they're calling from the dark ages.

It's about finding new ways to communicate in a digital world which has simplified so many everyday tasks, educated us in ways we never expected and helped us make informed decisions about major aspects of our lives - like kicking off a journey to find the home that's your office, your refuge and the place where you can watch your family grow and thrive.

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