Harnessing technology is the future of real estate

24 Feb 2022
Estate Agents Co-operative
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Mini thought piece

Recently, we were speaking to a member and they told us about their battle with technology in their office.

On a daily basis, they need to access seven or more platforms, logging in and logging out, so they can find contacts, get data, manage listings.

While it only takes two minutes each time to get into a new platform, when you add that up over a day, week, year, that’s a lot of  hours not spent doing something more productive.

The good news is, real estate technology is changing — this problem, among others, has been recognised and multiple companies are working hard and working together to overcome it.

But when it comes to technology in our field, the platforms, the silos, the extensive log ins are only half of the challenge.

Real estate is changing

Over recent years, we’ve all heard a lot about this movement from transactional real estate to a service or relationship-based focus — in fact, we’ve harped on about it ourselves.

But the truth is, there has always been a portion of real estate agents who have been razor focused on the level and quality of service they deliver, over and above moving rapidly from one transaction to the next.

Agents who are successful know sales are a by-product of this focus on service.

They are the ones who get a call ten years later from a past buyer or seller who still remembers their experience, and still has that underlying trust for the property service provider.

They are the ones who read this article and think, ‘what are they talking about, service-based real estate is new?’

In most licence courses you don’t see a lot about building relationships or servicing with a genuine aim for repeat business or referral.

But what we do see these days, is a growing number of service-driven mentors who are inducting our new agents into an environment where their client and their needs are absolutely at the centre of everything they do.

It may surprise some of you, but this type of mentoring wasn’t always a given in our industry.

As qualification and training requirements improve, we are also making that barrier to entry for agents a little bit harder, meaning potential new agents really need to think about whether or not this is the field for them.

They need to know this industry is about real service, not just making money.

This move to service-based real estate — and it can be seen beyond the individual and in some of the newer, more innovative business models being adopted — has and will be a game changer for our industry.

But is it the key to success? At one time, we’d have fervently said yes, your service will cement your successful future, but these days, it just may not be enough.

The influx of technology

Technology is by no means new in real estate. While most of us remember the introduction and proliferation of Australia’s largest property portals as though it was yesterday, in fact, they started to take over decades ago!

Since then, we’ve seen the arrival of advanced, dedicated and integrated CRMs made especially for our industry. We’ve seen a change in our websites, in how we upload listings, in how we promote listings, in how we communicate with and build a presence in our community.

There has been so much technology introduced to us that is either specific for property services, or relevant across all industries, that many of us are confused by exactly what to use, why and when.

In response to this confusion, or just the lack of time there is to test and explore, we have seen agents flock to some solutions, following the leader, and ignore others that are used successfully by other industries.

A great example of this is in agency and property marketing. Many agents have moved from newspapers and mailbox drops to centring their whole marketing strategy on just portals and Facebook.

Sure, they list the property on their own website, but most don’t invest in SEO to ensure their website will ever be found – it’s just not part of their strategy.

Yes, they have a profile on LinkedIn, but few use it to expand the reach and awareness of their agencies or service.

Absolutely, they have an auto-generated newsletter, but no one segments, so everyone gets the same message.

There is technology that can optimise all of the above – services and platforms that improve search rank, AI platforms that write content, automation systems that reach out for you, and email campaigners that make splitting lists as easy as a click.

But, most of these activities require their own platforms, so for just the above, you need to do that logging in and out at least five times to get the job done… Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Likewise, when it comes to data, most agencies are satisfied with the solution they have had for years, and though it may have expanded and may offer new data or new tools, they continue to use what they are used to and they don’t expand further.

They could now profile buyers, target ads, produce various reports, share insights directly with customers, in barely more than a tap. But not everyone does… because, again, time.

Despite the time factor, if you take a look around, a lot of the most successful agents, right now, are those who are using technology and platforms in different ways than they have been in the past.

They are digging deeper into data, relying more heavily on smart automation, targeting more closely with a click here and a click there. They are often the award winners each year, or the ones featured in podcasts, on property conference stages and speaking events, and when they are ready, they become successful real estate coaches.

For them, harnessing technology and using its power to their advantage, with a commitment to continuing to doing so, is cementing their place as relevant and irreplaceable for their clients who are buying and selling.

“While real estate is becoming more and more relationship-driven it may just be an agent’s capacity to harness technology, in all the right ways, that truly leads to their successful future.” – Sylvia Cortez, CEO, EAC. 

When technology and service converge

The truth is, no one factor makes a top agent, it is a combination of things. It’s no more just technology, or just service, than it is just getting up earlier and starting your day at 4.30am, as so many like to report.

But, looking at current trends, it might well be a combination of technology and that genuine service-driven approach that makes the future more certain. In fact, it may just be the use of technology in delivering that enhanced service that ensures agents continue to be relevant.

If we look around other industries, or even at our top franchises or head offices, this convergence of service and the data, and platforms that drive it, is propelling our industry forward.

It is allowing agents to reach out to more people, more often, to maintain relationships over longer periods of time, and to do so in a much more personal way.

It is enabling mass communication to be much more relevant and timely.

It is helping us finally deliver the right message, at the time, through the right channels.

“For our industry, having the knowledge, patience and commitment to find the right technology to work with and drive service, rather than working outside of it, will be a game-changer.” – Sylvia Cortez, CEO, EAC

How can you harness technology to build service in your agency?

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all the new technology available, but in reality, you don’t need to stay on top of everything.

You just need to identify the specific ways you want to improve or enhance your service, then hunt out the relevant solutions. More often than not, they’ll actually find you, in the form of emails, ads or sales people.

In the process of searching, don’t forget to:

  • Embrace technology training whenever you can
  • Take up demos of relevant solutions whenever offered
  • Implement internal mentoring, so everyone grows
  • Plan for business growth, track, reassess and refine regularly

After all the changes, challenges and distractions seen over recent years, finally we can once again just focus on how exciting it is to be real estate agents in a time when we can know and do more than ever before.

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