Thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee…

The power and reach of the internet and the world wide web knows no bounds.  For that we have to thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee.  Just imagine being introduced to a gentleman at The Priory Hotel (the go-to place for the movers and shakers of Monmouthshire) and asking what he does for a living, to receive the reply, “I invented the world wide web”.  Oh. “This week, according to Rightmove, I’m Cwmbran’s third-rated estate agent”.  Terrific.  Your junior G-man badge is in the post.  In all seriousness, without the internet and the world wide web, estate agents as well as most other industries would still think a rolodex was cutting edge.  As has been proven, newspaper adverts don’t sell houses;  nearly everyone looks on the internet for their next home.  Property portals – such as Rightmove – are the default for people looking to either buy, sell or rent a property.  As a result, someone can ring from Glasgow about a house in Pontypool that they have just seen on Rightmove .  The last time that I checked, the Argus didn’t deliver in Govan.  As fantastic and as instant as this is, to be used to best effect, it should be used in conjunction with boots on the ground (another throwback to my military career). Recently I have been contacted by several London based asset management companies, to discuss average prices in various postcodes in Gwent.  I soon discovered that their comparables were done purely by an individual in a office-somewhere-who had probably never even heard of Cwmbran, let alone be able to spell it if asked.  I had great difficulty trying to convince individuals that because one house in the postcode was worth £600,000 and another was worth £300,000, the average price for four-bedroomed houses in that postcode was not £450,000.  Similarly, a period property – however beautifully finished – in an unpopular postcode can sometimes be worth less than an ex-local authority property in a more desirable postcode.  I asked these companies whether I could at least go and have a look at the nominated property; even though I have lived here all my life, I wanted to go and look at it, in the flesh, not on a computer screen, at another agent’s carefully selected, beautifully photoshopped pictures.  If I could have gone to look at it, I could have told them that this very cheap, ‘bargain’ price that they thought that they were paying was in fact market value.  We have all – especially me – been dragged kicking and screaming into the technological era but should not forget that the old-fashioned ways still have a place and are an essential part of the property business.