These are exciting times for the real estate industry. New startups, new tools, and new business models are changing the way real estate professionals engage with consumers, and the response has been largely positive: in a survey of consumer satisfaction in various industries, the real estate industry came out on top, with 96 percent of customers saying they were satisfied.
Before we try anything…we always ask: are we bringing value? And what problem are we trying to solve? That philosophy can be implemented on any budget.
— TOM FLANAGAN
Real estate professionals, for their part, are adopting new tools and technology more quickly and enthusiastically than ever before. A recent Inman survey found that agents spent an average of about $5,600 on their biggest tech investment in 2015, and that more than half of agents use close to a dozen tech tools in the course of their work.
Still, despite the incredible strides our industry has made, there are many who believe that we’ve reached a plateau. While today’s agents and brokers have dozens of options when it comes to technology providers, there’s a sense that many of these providers are churning out similar products, and that too few are driving meaningful innovation.
Nevertheless, there a major shift coming in how agents and brokers do business—and according to Tom Flanagan, that moment is closer than you might think. “At this point, most real estate professionals have a website, and they sort of all look the same,” Tom told us.” The space hasn’t really to date changed that dramatically. I think we’re on that tipping point. I think something really big is going to happen.”
Tom has good reason to feel confident in this prediction: he’s worked at the intersection of technology and real estate for years, first at Residential Properties in Providence, RI, and now as Vice President of Technology at Alain Pinel Realtors in Silicon Valley. Also a former real estate tech columnist, Tom has been named one of the 100 most influential people in real estate by Inman News, and speaks at events like Real Estate Connect and the Google IT Summit.
For Tom, innovation doesn’t just come from technology providers: it also comes from real estate professionals themselves. “You need to be solving a problem,” Tom told us. “It doesn’t matter if you’re at a small brokerage, a small real estate team, just an independent contractor.” Agents shouldn’t simply wait for brokers or CEOs to innovate, either: “If [you’re] always questioning the status quo, and you step up to the plate and you deliver…I think that can really facilitate change.”
In this interview, Tom breaks down what today’s new agents need to do to get off to a strong start online, and explains why the internet of things is the next big thing for our industry.