Chiswick based tech start-up Chimni is teaming up with a group West London Estate Agents in to trial a new online home management tool that could link homeowners directly into estate agent software and eventually let them control the profile of their home on the major property portals.
The process of managing a home has become increasingly complicated in the digital world and this often comes to a head the moment people try and sell. Chimni aims to help homeowners get ‘sales ready’ and to help them participate in a process that is rapidly digitising. Russell Quirk CEO of eMoov has described Chimni as:
“the first proper attempt to shift homeowners into the digital age”.
Every year 200k house sales fall through in the UK because the seller can't find the required paperwork. Chimni addresses that by providing templated systems to help the homeowner store and manage key information and documentation. “The agency world is full of digital innovation but most of it is on the agency and supplier side. This is the first time a system has been produced to help the homeowner get 'sale ready" says Teresa Brewer of participating agent Finlay Brewer.
The local agents have been recruited to understand how the Chimni Logs can improve the sales process for homeowners. The agents are investigating how to smooth the process of signing up new homes by helping customers become 'sales ready'. The long term plan for Chimni is to link the logs directly into the sales software.
Paul Cooney of Horton&Garton says "The Chimni concept has the potential to simplify life for property owners, buyers, solicitors, estate agents... the list goes on. I run a paperless office and much prefer using secure virtual platforms for communication and document storage. Its a stroke of genius and we're wholeheartedly behind the project."
The agents are recruiting customers interested in using a new digital tool to support their sales. Each homeowner will be given a Chimni Log and get help from Chimni to assemble documentation and records. The agents will share the insight generated by Chimni’s research into how the Chimni Logs are used. For the first stage of the trial, integration with agency systems will be handled manually, giving the Chimni design team a chance to optimise their plans to integrate. "Its a great chance to take part in some innovative product research aimed at helping the homeowner navigate the digital chaos that has been created around them" said Nigel Walley of Chimni.
For Chimni, as well as understanding how consumers want to use the systems, there is the question of how a homeowner’s online logbook can and should integrate with the growing agency CRM software ecosystem, through the sales process.
The Estate Agent trial is part of a wider 'Digital Suburb' initiaitve being run by Chimni in West London close to Chimni HQ in Chiswick. “We like to joke we are the anti-Shoreditch, the middle-aged guys in the west London suburbs trying to solve problems we have encountered as homeowners,” says Nigel Walley, Chimni Founder and Managing Director. In the first stage of the Digital Suburb initiative, Chimni worked with local Residents and Civic Groups helping them get online in return for support in building their trial cohort. A later project stage will include a trial with the three Local Authorities to explore how to use the Chimni logs to automate and simplify the Planning and Building Control application process.