Are you a Realtor or interested in the Real Estate business? If you are, read on to get the latest low down on technology tools for real estate agents.
Here we are in 2020. So much has changed since the 20th Century but people always have – and always will – need somewhere to live. America is unusual because there is just so much land – but try telling that to natives of Manhattan Malibu or Mountain View.
In fact, since the world population is going up, but the amount of land is fixed, Real Estate is a great industry to be in. Okay, there are short term ups and downs, local ups and downs and national trends like the whole SubPrime disaster and the financial crash of 2008. They were really nasty for quite a while, but the underlying principles of Real Estate carried on. Land and Real Estate always has value and some land – and the properties on it – will become even more valuable.
So, the long term future of Real Estate is secure. That doesn’t mean Real Estate isn’t changing.
Internet Threats and Opportunities
Downloads did it to CDs. TripAdvisor, Trivago, AirBnB and other travel and accommodation sites did it to travel agents and the hospitality industry. Amazon and eBay are doing it to shopping malls and physical retailers. Netflix is doing it to CBS, NBC and ABC. Uber is trying to do it to cabs and taxis. Once fully Internet-savvy businesses grasp the real potential of the Web, traditional competitors need to be on the lookout. Realtors who don’t exploit the full potential of technology are vulnerable to those Realtors that do. What’s more, new entrants don’t play by the “rules”.
So, Realtors need to ask one simple question about almost anything they are doing today: “Is there a better digital way than just keeping on doing this thing the same way?”
If it makes more sense to clients and to you to change to digital methods, then make that change. If you don’t, someone else probably will. We touched on these issues in our two articles on laptop computers for Realtors and the follow-up article on tablet computers for realtors.
Six ways technology is changing Real Estate
Here are six practical ways tech tools for realtors are changing real estate.
1. Telecommuting: Why go to the office?
Big real estate offices cost money to rent or lease and they have plenty of running costs too, like insurance and utility bills. So, these days Real Estate staff are mobile and way more connected than even a few years ago, which means that Realtors can operate almost anywhere. All they need is a good signal. So, why have expensive permanent desks fo everyone in a Real Estate office? Get a much smaller office and focus on using it to impress potential clients. Realtors can do almost all their ‘office’ work remotely – from home, form a car park or from a Starbucks or Denny’s. Just keep some “hot desks” when needed.
2. The Conference Call
Remember not so long ago sitting in a room with a group of people making that conference call? This is a similar story to telecommuting. There are so many ways via Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts to do that way better. It saves time too – why on earth waste precious time and money traveling backward and forwards to the office, just to sit in a room?
3. The Filing Cabinet
No one uses paper today unless they really have to. However, people still think in that traditional way. Why are you storing lots of client and company files on your laptop or tablet? That’s crazy. At a minimum, you need to back stuff up in case you lose your digital device and it’s hard work for people to share it.
Have you tried Google Sheets, Google Docs, WordPress, OneDrive, Microsoft Sharepoint or any of the similar collaborative software? Not only can you securely store files in the cloud, but you can also work collaboratively with colleagues and third parties. In real-time, if you need too. People used to worry about Cloud security but the CIA seem to manage – right. They have the odd secret to keep. All you need is a fast enough link and you can get WiFi now in so many places. Did I already mention Starbucks?
4. The Client Presentation
Wow, this is a big topic. There are som many ways to present properties to clients now. Forget brochures or even PowerPoint slide presentations. OK, they still have their place but check out all of the tools out there for videos, 3D walkthroughs, visualizations – the list just goes on. We didn’t even mention VR yet – it’s still in its early days in real estate but has huge potential.
5. Initial Client Contact
Real Estate is a people-based business where the human touch counts. That does not mean you can’t use digital solutions in the right places. For example, online Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots – if done correctly – can be a great way of answering initial enquiries and generating those all-important leads. This isn’t Glengarry Glenross anymore, the vast majority of leads are going to be based on initial internet searches. This brings us to our final point, which is changing your marketing.
6. Digital Marketing
Just having a good looking website isn’t enough anymore. This isn’t “Field of Dreams” either. If you build it, they will probably not come. You might think highly of your business – and maybe rightly so – but the Internet is callous and pitiless. Once a search engine engages, you are an insignificant needle in a gigantic digital haystack. You might have a very lovely needle but there is no guarantee a potential client will find you.
Did you know most people never get past the first few entries at the top of the page of a Google search? If you aren’t there, you are pretty much nowhere. So, you need to have a well thought through and well resourced Digital Marketing strategy. What’s more that strategy needs to extend to Social Media Marketing too. For example, if you are selling real estate to Millennials, their instinct will be to check you out on Instagram or some other platform. This is the theory of positive purchase intentions (PPI). Trustworthiness is critical. If they hear credible good things about you – great. If they don’t (or hear credible negative comments) then guess what – your lovely Realtor website is worth precisely zip. You might get hit with trolling or it could be real dissatisfied consumers. You simply have to deal with negative social media postings. Digital technology giveth but digital technology also taketh away.
So, social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, SnapChat etc. are great news for Real Estate businesses – but only if you understand how they really operate. What’s more they will potentially massively enhance your business at a fraction of the expense of traditional marketing. The catch is – but only if you put the work in to use them properly and effectively.
We just took a quick look at some of the uses of technology tools for real estate agents. There are many more and we’d love to hear your ideas, questions and suggestions. So, please leave any comments you want and thanks for reading.