Why Real Estate Agents Must Be Tech Savvy in 2014
By Colin Ryan
About Agent Basics
There’s a lot of discussion these days about using technology in your real estate business. Is it a surefire way to reach more prospects and close more deals? Or is it all just a bunch of expensive noise?
Many veterans suggest that experience and results, rather than tech savvy, are what real estate consumers want from their agents. While this is certainly true, technology is a major asset in the real estate professional’s toolkit when carefully implemented. Check out our six reasons why.
You’ll earn more.
Okay, so it’s not a guarantee, but research shows that high-earning agents invest more in technology than their low- and medium-income peers. In a survey by Inman News, for instance, 50 percent of agents with annual earnings over $100,000 said they spent more than $2,500 out of pocket on technology each year, while 25 percent spent $5,000 or more.
“I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone.”
— Bob Parsons, GoDaddy
Money wasn’t the only factor, either: half of the high-earning pool said they updated their real estate website or blog at least a few times a week, while nearly 40 percent of low earners only added content once a month.
In addition to earning you more, technology can actually cost you less. While this may be hard to believe given the high price of devices and software subscriptions, the fact is that technology is more efficient than traditional tools and methods. For instance, inbound marketing techniques (blogging, ebooks, social media) actually cost 62 percent less per lead than traditional outbound marketing (print mailers, newspaper ads, billboards).
Technology can also save real estate agents money on everyday expenses. Printing, for instance, is often the third largest office expense behind rent and payroll. (Not so surprising when you consider that InkJet ink costs seven times as much, ounce for ounce, as Dom Perignon). Office space, meanwhile, is too precious to not consider trading in huge, clunky filing cabinets for cheap, secure digital storage providers like Dropbox and Google Drive.
One of a real estate agent’s most important functions is facilitating communication and collaboration between multiple parties so that they can reach an agreement. The problem is, these parties are often scattered all over the place–at home a mile away, at work ten miles away, or on vacation a thousand miles away.
So what happens when you need to get offers, contracts, and other documents to these people? Well, first you have to print them. Then, you can either fax or hand-deliver them. Then, you need to call each party to walk them through the documents. Then, you need to make several more phone calls to relay any desired changes or concerns. Then, you need to send the updated documents and wait for each party to review them again. Then, you need to wait for the documents to be signed and returned. Finally, you need to return copies for each party.
“Simplicity and common sense should characterize planning and strategic direction.”
— Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA
Alternatively, you can store and share the documents via a cloud service, receive instant feedback, update the originals in real time, obtain digital signatures, and send the finished, official documents via email.
Now, which of these processes sounds faster and easier?
Your customers are tech savvy.
In any sales job, it’s crucial that you know your customers and can speak their language–and when it comes to real estate, that language is increasingly technology. Last year, 92 percent of homebuyers used the Internet in their search, with over half saying that going online was their very first step.
Home buyers aren’t just using their desktop or laptop computers to search, either. In fact, 45 percent of buyers used a mobile website or application to search for a home in 2013, while 22 percent of mobile searchers reported they found the home they ultimately purchased with a mobile application.
You’re probably using technology already.
If these consumer tech habits scare you, there’s good news: even if you’re not using technology actively in your business, there’s a good chance you already have the tools to do so. Virtually all Realtors (92%) now own smartphones, and nearly half of these are iPhones. Meanwhile, 89% of all Realtors use social media in their personal lives.
Nevertheless, many agents barely scratch the surface of these tools’ potential, using their iPhones solely to make calls and check email. Luckily, there are plenty of resources and experts out there to help you make your existing technology and online presence work for you.
You need to stay competitive.
Finally, it’s not just consumers who are adopting technology. Whether you like it or not, your fellow agents are doing it too. A recent Keller Williams study of recruitment at its market centers revealed that candidate leads increased by more than two thirds in the second half of 2013. Of these candidates, 68 percent are 35 or younger, with 32 percent under the age of 25. That’s a lot of young agents entering the market who have grown up using technologies like social media and mobile devices.
“You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.”
— Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp
Perhaps more importantly, these young agents believe in these tools, with 69 percent saying they saw their familiarity with technology as an immediate competitive advantage over veteran agents. Whether that advantage is real or imagined remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: if experienced agents want to stay at the top of the heap, they’ll have to keep up with the rising tide of technology.
Published on January 21, 2014