When we move home these days, so much of the process is managed and carried out online. Most people search for properties on portals, before researching conveyancers online. In fact, you can even apply for funds through a digital mortgage broker now.
But, there's one aspect of relocating that doesn't utilise the internet, right? The actual moving home
Of course, when it comes to moving your worldly possessions from one property to another, there is no way of doing it digitally (yet!). But it's the pre-removal process which is getting a helping hand from technology.
Step forward video self-surveys. When you hire a removals company, it's common practice that they'll want to carry out a survey and take an inventory before moving day. This allows them to give you a fair quote, and ascertain how much needs moving and if there's any items that require specialist attention.
In the past, the usual scenario involves a representative visiting your home and carrying out the survey. There is also the opportunity to carry out your own survey, without the help of the removals firm.
Now, though, both options are being fused together with the advent of video self-surveys.
What is a digital pre-moving survey?
The process involves the home owner conducting their own pre-moving survey while speaking to a representative of the removals firm via video link on a smartphone or tablet.
The surveyor can direct the mover around their home and all items that need to be moved will be recorded. The fact that the two parties can communicate while the process is being carried out is one of its key benefits.
The idea behind the technology is to make sure the survey is carried out thoroughly and accurately, but that it saves time and adds flexibility for both the mover and the surveyor.
SurveyBot leading the way
One of the firms to pioneer the technology is called SurveyBot - the brainchild of a former relocation surveyor from the US.
The California-based company has already made waves in the UK by partnering with Pickfords, one of the country's largest removals firms, and Nomad International are also using this new technology to support their efforts in pre-move surveys
Now we know what digital pre-moving surveys are, what are some of the pros and cons of utilising this technology?
Less margin for error than traditional the self-survey
Self-surveys are nothing new in the removals industry, but one of the biggest criticisms of owners compiling their own pre-move inventory is the margin for error and scope for discrepancies. When the self-survey doesn't match up with what actually needs to be removed, this disadvantages the removals firm who many not be fully prepared as well as the home owner, who may have to pay more than they were expecting.
By having a professional surveyor present via video link, the new technology is trying to minimise the frequency of this scenario occurring.
A more convenient process for movers and surveyors
Pre-moving surveys that are carried out digitally are more convenient for the surveyor, who won't have to travel to undertake what is usually a pretty quick task, and also for the mover, who can book the survey to be compiled at a time that suits them.
Movers could be more engaged during a digital survey
Advocates of digital surveys say that they allow the home owner to be more engaged in the process. As the mover has to actively show the surveyor around the property, while explaining what needs moving, there is an argument that a more thorough survey can be compiled than if the owner does it themselves or leaves a visiting surveyor to get on with it.
Video surveys could cut costs for home movers
Digital pre-moving surveys may end up costing the home owner less than if they requested a surveyor to come and visit their home. If surveys are executed digitally, the removals firm won't have to travel and will potentially be able to fit in more appointments. Both these points combined may allow surveyors to reduce their prices, ultimately saving the mover money.
Nothing beats seeing a home in person
A digital survey may not feel as thorough and the owner or surveyor may be concerned that some items get missed or the scale of the job is misinterpreted. If the surveyor hasn't seen the items in person, it may be difficult for them to gauge the weight and size of certain things. What's more, they may also find it more difficult to get a sense of the space in the property and therefore how bigger items will be moved around.
Some movers may be camera shy
There is the simple disadvantage that some home owners may not feel comfortable on camera, showing their surveyor around digitally - especially as you need to make sure that the user at the other end of the survey is legitimate. This could waste time when the mover might be more at ease if the surveyor came around to inspect the property in person to avoid any false identification.
More of the personal and emotional element of moving could be eroded
As is often stated, moving home can be a very personal and emotional experience. Removing the human interaction at the removals survey stage, therefore, may be viewed by many as a negative step.
Digital surveys don’t mean an end to all discrepancies
A digital pre-moving survey doesn't necessarily eliminate all disagreements and discrepancies. When a remover turns up at a property there may be items that they didn't see during the digital survey or some items may appear differently upon inspection.
So, there we have it - digital pre-moving surveys are only just getting started and it's clear they have their advantages and disadvantages. One thing that is for sure, though, is that as technology continues to play an increasingly crucial role in the home moving process, we're likely to see more digital pre-moving surveys in the next few years.