Going back into the singles market after a period of life spent in a relationship can be difficult, troublesome and unnerving. Dating in 2017 is a lot different from ten years ago - never mind twenty or, heaven forbid, thirty. Society, expectations and even the rules of the game have moved on. Those entering this arena after some time have to learn these new rules and quickly.

Moving home is very similar. The way we buy property has changed a great deal over the past decade or two. The internet for instance has altered how we search for property, and it has had a similar effect on the dating business. Most people nowadays use a dating site or their smart phone to find a partner, much as they use technology to find a home.

Then there is the first date. Perhaps there are fewer blind dates nowadays because dating sites and 21st century technology provide the opportunity to communicate in all sorts of ways before the dreaded initial personal encounter. Home buying is similar. Now, before one visits a property for the first time there is the opportunity to look around it in the anonymity of one’s own home. Through the internet one can see photographs, and often a video, and perhaps drone footage too. Google’s Street View will show the location, position, outlook and the condition of the neighbouring properties. Through Google Earth one can even see what it all looks like from outer space.

Once upon a time estate agents had to know all the local details. Now the internet will provide the entire lowdown on property values, schools, transport, communications, security, crime rates and much more. In the same way a dating site will know the details of its applicants and from that information it will try and find a perfect match.

But like dating, home finding can be a highly personal business. You can try to find an idea partner online but it is not exactly personal and often can be a rather hit and miss affair. So despite the march of time, the change in rules and the advance in technology many still rely on an age-old, tried and tested, highly successful means of finding their perfect partner – a matchmaker. Down the centuries, in cultures all over the world matchmakers have made couples happy.

Well, consider a good estate agent as a matchmaker. You can do all sorts of research online but a good agent will understand what your heart wants in the way a machine never can. An estate agent will also know what is not yet on the market but soon will be – and of course you will want to be the first in line.

Dating and property finding have changed over time. But so have estate agents. You will find all of them are online in one way or another. But a good estate agent will also offer other valuable qualities – empathy, understanding and heart.