I read an article recently in The Australian about how everything around us is speeding up. Everything seems faster and more competitive than ever before: we work more, sleep less, and are constantly connected to the wider world. While I’ll leave it to others to comment on the changes to society in general, the “constantly connected” theme works well with me as technology, and mobile technology in particular, has and will continue to revolutionise real estate.
It’s hardly surprising: Australian’s are addicted to their mobile devices. Over 80% of Australians own at least one smartphone. These stats aren’t new but in relation to real estate, how has it changed our business?
For me, I see mobility affecting the way we work in three key ways.
Connectivity to the market
In my view, this has been the biggest advance for our industry. Our potential clients, both vendors and buyers, are using mobile tech constantly when researching, buying or selling property. All the major real estate portals have been mobile ready for years, but its software and it’s tie with mobility that has had the biggest impact. We’ve used a variety of technology to connect to clients. Something like Third Floor 3D scanning means we can have an open house 24/7. A user can be online at 10pm, sitting on the couch using a tablet, and walk virtually through our listings. It’s a huge leap forward in being able to put our properties in front of more buyers in locations we never could before. It’s an amazing marketing tool.
There’s a host of start-ups and established players bringing out a variety of apps that will further revolutionise the way people interact with property; it’s my view that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. It still amazes me that agencies are slow to get on-board with this.
Access the office anywhere
Being a hands-on principal means I’m still on the road. This means I’m often out with vendors, prospective and existing, as well as potential buyers. My car really has become my second office! Mobile tech has kept us ticking. Our CRM, AgentBox, is set up for mobile use making it easy for our team to use our client data while on the move. It’s invaluable for us from a sales perspective, particularly the plug-in to RP Data.
We also use a number of mass-market apps to help us out. For example, the WeChat app is amazing for communicating with our Chinese clients. The translate function is a perfect comms tool to convert a conversation into Mandarin and vice versa.
Power to the consumer
A potential client has more ways than ever of connecting with our industry and that doesn’t always mean that it’s the traditional “looking for property” aspect. There’s a ton of technology that puts information at the fingertips of a consumer: property data on market trends, instant access the average suburb prices, and probably the most interesting for our industry…agent ratings based on performance.
What does this shift in information mean? For me it means our role is changing. Gone are the days where we simply sold a property, an agent now has to have a much wider range of skills to add value to an informed consumer. For example, simply relying on “25 years experience” or “local market expertise” won’t cut it anymore when a consumer in one hour can access the same market data on their smartphone. The value of this ‘so-called’ expertise has been eroded. You could add value by providing further analysis: using that same data, what interpretation can you give a potential client given their not in real estate day to day?
Change or be left behind
This quote from an entrepreneur.com article a few years back sums it up for me: “Smart real estate agents will embrace these technology advances and use them to survive, while others will woefully cling to their brochures and rolodexes, lamenting that the old ways are better because that’s the way that things have always been done. Unfortunately though, as history has shown time and again, nostalgia is rarely a good business model — no matter what industry you are in”.