Technology will never replace the human side of house sales, says Clive Hedges of Arnolds Keys.

If a young person ever asks you for careers advice, the best tip you can give them is this: you spend a huge part of your life at work, so try to pick something you’ll enjoy.

That is something I am very lucky to have achieved, and it has led to a very satisfying career which I am delighted to say is still going strong.

The reason I bring this up is that 2024 will mark my half-century as an estate agent. I left school at the age of 16 and joined what was then Keys as a very junior junior, responsible for answering the phone and printing off property details on an old Gestetner machine.

Fortunately, from day one I loved it, and was extremely fortunate to benefit from the kind and wise tutelage of my first boss, Tony Bond.

I have been based here in Sheringham ever since, and despite more than a few periods of choppy waters in the property market over the last 50 years, I have enjoyed every minute of it.

I am emphatically not one of those old codgers who insist life was better ‘back then’. To thrive in this profession – in any profession, if we are honest – you have to be adaptable and open to new ideas.

In five decades, I have seen seismic changes in estate agency, much of it driven by technology. But you know what: despite all that, the fundamental truth that it’s a people business has not altered one bit.

Eastern Daily Press: Clive Hedges, manager at Arnolds Keys’ Coastal Hub in SheringhamClive Hedges, manager at Arnolds Keys’ Coastal Hub in Sheringham (Image: Arnolds Keys)
Technological advances have, of course, played a major part in transforming how houses are bought and sold. The internet played a huge part in this, opening up vendors to vast new pools of buyers, but let’s not forget other things such as digital photography, 360-degree walkthroughs, virtual viewings and social media.

These innovations are exciting, and useful to both buyers and sellers. Throughout my career I have been enthusiastic in embracing them, and remain so.

But no matter what the next big technological wonder is, the personal touch will always be not just important, but at the front and centre of selling houses.

When I started, the profession was made up of local firms staffed by local people, who really knew the market and, more importantly, the people in their community. The best agents still do.

Even though technology has changed the face of the property profession, the basics are the same as they were 50 years ago. It is still about having an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local market and building those personal relationships.

In the end, estate agency is about people, not bricks and mortar, and no amount of technology, however useful, will ever change that.

Clive Hedges is manager at Arnolds Keys’ Coastal Hub in Sheringham. Visit the website at