Making Peace with Technology as a Real Estate Agent
By Colin Ryan
About Agent Basics
Let us tell you what you already know: the Internet has transformed the entire real estate industry. Twenty years ago, potential real estate buyers were largely in the dark about their choices; all they had were a string of abbreviations and a grainy photograph of a property’s exterior.
Real estate professionals, on the other hand, were wizards. They had a secret, mysterious knowledge of their trade, and clients could benefit from that knowledge for a price.
Welcome to the twenty-first century. Today, there are no secrets. Buyers can view live video feeds of the area, read reviews of your agency, get perspectives on the neighborhood from current residents, access government stats on traffic and environmental hazards, check the seller’s asking price against trends for the surrounding area, take virtual tours of every room, even sign contracts digitally.
New Challenges, New Solutions
Nevertheless, if clients now have increased access to information, agents also have increased access to potential clients. Social media and marketing technology are changing the way agents interact with their clients. Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist; today, more than 80 percent of real estate professionals are using the service in their jobs.
This has led not just to changes in communication, but more importantly, to changes in advertising and marketing. The Internet has come to dominate real estate marketing. That means there are increased opportunities to reach potential clients more quickly, more efficiently, and more cheaply.
On the other hand, this also means there’s more pressure on agents to adopt the new tools. But agents who complain by responding that they “just don’t understand technology” are ignoring their business sense. Fads and trends become norms on the Internet for a reason: because they make life easier, they make life better, and they make people money. True, there’s a learning curve, particularly for agents who didn’t come of age with the Internet; but that’s no excuse for ignoring it.
Getting To Work
An effective real estate agent keeps current and continues to educate himself on the ways technology is being adopted and adapted to the industry. That means humbling yourself and asking people in the know, who are often younger. There are also more formal ways to educate yourself. Read books. Take classes. Go to conferences. Put in the time.
Finally, it’s important to remember that when it comes to technology, just because you have to understand it doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. You always have the option of recruiting someone else to handle your technology for you. Nevertheless, you’ll have to know enough to be sure that you’re not throwing your money away. Hiring someone to build your website will be a waste of time if what they produce is based on the demands of last year’s customers.
This brings to mind a final point about technology: perhaps the biggest challenge of using it is the fact that it’s always changing. But that’s all the more reason to be active about adopting it. Don’t wait for some grand epiphany: search for knowledge. It’s part of your job.
Published on December 30, 2011