4 ways to take more advantage of digital change in real estate

28 Nov 2021
Estate Agents Co-operative

There was a time, in years gone by, when the only way to prove ownership of a property was to produce a printed (or hand written, if we go back further), paper deed, certified by the appropriate authority.

Just a couple of months into mandatory paperless conveyancing, and yellowed, scrunched up pieces of torn paper already feel like a distant memory.

In a long-planned change that officially came into effect and mandatory across NSW in October 2021, electronic, rather than paper titles will now be issued to new home buyers.

“This is another step towards an almost entirely digital real estate industry,” said Sylvia Cortez, CEO of EAC. “We now have very comprehensive CRM and marketing platforms driving our sales teams, business and promotional decisions; online sales systems facilitating both private treaty and auction; and now completion of the transaction through digital settlement and titles.”

“While, of course, there will always be some trepidation about and opposition to change, overall these moves are very positive for agents. They will not only reduce human error and other human factors that slow down sales, but will streamline processes and minimise the administration that ties agents up and takes them away from what they need to be doing.”

As part of this digital evolution in conveyance, The NSW Land Registry will now hold onto a copy of all digital deeds, meaning owners are not responsible for presenting their title to prove their claim and right to sell.

And while anyone was once permitted to lodge with the NSW Land Registry, this activity will now be restricted to conveyancers or solicitors who are registered Electronic Network Operators.

“Again, this factor may produce some resistance, especially from that small group of people who traditionally have not used a conveyancer or solicitor to act on their behalf, or from solicitors averse to change,” said Sylvia, “but if we play our part in ensuring sellers and buyers understand the benefits, this can be overcome quickly.”

A big part of helping others overcome challenges with what are now becoming quite rapid digital changes in real estate, is first overcoming them ourselves. Making sure we are comfortable and confident evolving as the technology evolves, trying knew things and knowing what new platforms and digital processes to bring into our businesses and what to reject.

To increase your comfort level and your confidence, we’ve prepared some simple actions and insights you can draw on.

  1. Try before you buy

It’s an obvious one, right? And we all do it; we all sign up for free trials, or free versions or lite apps so we can try out a new platform before we commit to making a purchase.

We all sign up… but we don’t all try the platform out when we get access to that platform for free.

Instead, we let ourselves get busy, distracted or prioritise everything else, and find that those 7, 14 or 30 days lapse before we know it, and suddenly we have to make an uninformed purchase decision.

If you are given the opportunity to try new technology – really try it! Implement it in your business for at least a week, so you get a real-world experience and a clear understanding of the benefits the solution can deliver and what drawbacks may also be associated with it.

If you have no choice, like solicitors in this situation, don’t wait until the last minute and just start using the digital solution because you must. At that point, if you have hiccups, there’s no way to solve them. If you have resistance, there’s no means for gradual implementation.

Try before you buy, and do it as early as you can!

  1. Train, try, learn

Something most of us are a little guilty of – because we are so time-poor – is purchasing new software or signing up for apps or implementing new hardware, and then only using it, minimally, when we have to do so.

Generally, that means we never have the opportunity to actually become good at using our new technology, and rather than streamlining our business and our processes, we actually make things slower and more difficult.

When you implement new tech, take up every opportunity available to do training, especially if it’s one-on-one.

Lap up those free demos, call that support line, YouTube all those community instruction videos and find every way this solution can solve more problems in your business.

  1. Introduce reverse mentoring

Whether we like it or not, often the juniors in our businesses adapt to new technology much faster than those of us who have been around a bit longer.

They grew up with social media, smart phones, apps that do anything and everything, and when we put another one in front of them, it seems they can intuitively find their way around it in just a few minutes.

One way to take advantage of the skills and knowledge you have in your business, is to introduce reverse mentoring. Invest your training budget in a few courses for your junior employees, match each one up with a senior employee, and have them teach the senior employee how to get the most out of the platform.

  1. Educate yourself, then educate your clients

Just like you, your clients are always going to be a bit sceptical of new technology or new ways of doing things – but they also don’t really want to work with agencies that seem behind the times.

After you have worked hard to educate yourself – to understand what your new technology does and how it benefits both you and, in turn your client – then you can share it with them.

As technology does change, it isn’t just our job to list, sell and manage properties, it is also our job to help our clients understand that they can trust the new processes and platforms, and of course us.

It’s our job to become evangelists for how our rapidly evolving industry works, to sell positive change as an opportunity to make their lives easier, and the outcomes of their real estate transactions better.

To do this, talk about the technology you use with your clients, explain it accessibly on your website and in listing presentations, make it a point of differentiation in your agency and brand promotion.

Communicating helps build awareness and understanding, and normalises a change to help people embrace it easier and faster.

One of the challenges with mandated changes, is they often aren’t sold in well to the various stakeholders they affect.

While, as agents, we have to deal with the impacts of these mandated digital changes, we can also learn from them, so we do better implementing the new technology we choose to introduce to our agencies and clients.

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