BY JANET BESHEER
The real estate industry has been an exciting
roller coaster ride over the past 10 years, as the
Great Recession, major shifts in the ownership
structure of the industry, and new technologies
available to clients and agents have redefined
opportunities and competitive advantages.
While the substantial economic impact of
these factors cannot be overlooked, significant
upheaval has occurred in the last decade for all
real estate players–just based on technology
Here are four of the most noticeable changes
we have seen that are driven by technological
â€¢ Clients are better informed.
Most clients now begin a relationship with
a realtor through online inquiries rather than
making a phone call or stopping into an office.
Gone are the days of going to an office to view a
printed book of homes or sitting with an agent
at a computer in order to see the MLS listings.
Clients usually have done some homework
by visiting a brokerage website or by using an
online tool such as Zillow or Trulia. Agents and
brokers must stay on their toes knowing that
the consumer is armed with more information
than ever before.
Success is reserved for those real estate professionals
who have their own “data mining toolkit,”
who can customize marketing information that
delivers to clients exactly what they seek, according
to their individual needs.
â€¢ Agents can harness data-rich profiles to
jump start client relationships.
To the benefit of both buyers and sellers,
technology-savvy agents can now understand
their customers’ needs better and deliver higher
quality, targeted information about listings.
Depending on the sophistication of an agent
or their brokerage’s systems, it is now possible
to know in advance of a client meeting about their profession, income level, number of kids at
home, outstanding mortgage balance and lender,
etc. This makes the buying process more efficient.
â€¢ Virtual showings are possible 24/7.
In terms of the marketing implications of
this faster-paced, technology-driven environment,
any agent who doesn’t understand the
importance of photography and feature-rich
writing will lag behind. Similarly, agents must
have cutting-edge video tools and understand
how to use them.
Words, photos and videos build a listing’s
online portfolio, and create a “walk-through”
experience for the buyer before he or she ever
takes a step through the door.
â€¢ Transactions are completed more efficiently.
In the final transaction process, both buyers
and sellers (and agents) now save enormous amounts of administrative time due to online
transaction management and digital signature
technology. This improves client relations and
reduces brokerage expenses in terms of the staff
production time required to prepare for closings.
For instance, today, Equitas uses an online
transaction system for all document storage
and communication for all agents. We are a
completely paperless office. Digital signatures are
used in over 30 percent of the transactions and
that comfort level is growing annually.
As a realtor for the past 16 years, and owner
of a growing brokerage since 2008, I’ve found
it imperative that the brokerage lead agents
through the dense forest of online marketing/
technology options and evaluate them relative
to ROI value.
With online real estate search sites like Zillow/
Trulia and Realtor.com in a heated competitive
battle and new technologies rising up monthly, it
is incumbent on the brokerage to stay on top of
these competitive changes. Agents don’t have the
time or background to act as industry analysts.
We must do it for them.
Indeed, it is the existence of these services
that helps fuel the trend toward a growing number
of independent brokerages. Brokers are no
longer required to set up shop within the expensive
confines of the traditional franchise system.
The net result of this ever-changing real estate
environment is that brokerages have the opportunity
to think through and deliver solutions to
agents on all of these technology fronts. Indeed,
we see the future of real estate as a merger of
industry professionals’ real estate expertise with
the processing power of technology.
Besheer is the owner of Equitas Realty, with
offices in Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls.
Photo Courtesy Equitas Realty