CEO and cofounder of Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company that helps even beginners make profitable investments in minutes.
Compared to other industries, real estate has been slow to adopt technology at scale. Agents and brokers have frequently been even more hesitant and resistant than other stakeholders—like homebuyers, investors and lenders—to adapt to the changing reality.
However, there are many ways that technology can help agents perform their work more efficiently and profitably, letting them grow their business and improve their bottom line.
In this article, I highlight five beneficial uses of technology in the real estate profession and discuss how each one can optimize performance.
1. Technology can boost the results of your real estate marketing efforts.
Real estate agents have always understood the crucial role of reaching out to as many people as possible. After all, everyone is a potential real estate prospect as they will sooner or later need to buy a home or sell their current house. Cold mail, brochures, newspaper listings, magazine ads, cold calls, you name it. Agents have applied these and many other marketing strategies with a high level of success throughout the years.
While some of these might still be valid techniques today, the truth is that traditional marketing strategies are not as effective as those enhanced by technology. According to Pew Research Center data, 93% of American adults use the internet. In addition, a person spends an average of 7 hours a day online. From the perspective of a real estate agent, this means that the internet constitutes the largest potential space for accessing potential clients.
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Thus, agents should not simply publish information about their business on their website, social media or YouTube. They should use available tech tools to create the most relevant and influential content and post it in the optimal time and manner to generate more leads. These don’t have to be real estate-specific tools. Platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush can help optimize agents’ marketing content for search engines, platforms like Buffer and Hootsuite can direct you towards the best times and hashtags for posting on social media and products like TubeBuddy and vidIQ can help optimize video content.
2. Technology can be at the core of generating and nurturing qualified leads.
Lead generation, qualification and conversion make up the second pillar of the real estate business after marketing. And this is one more area where technology has the potential to have a major impact.
As a first step, the use of technology agents can reach better leads via targeted digital marketing campaigns. Next, they can employ AI-based software to qualify leads based on characteristics and historic data on the behavior of leads with similar qualities. Afterward, agents can benefit from smart, digital CRM systems able to customize and automate the lead nurturing process. This leads both to less repetitive manual work and more optimal results.
While many parts of the lead generation and conversion process can be automated through tech, agents need to continue paying attention to the human aspect of buying and selling real estate. Real estate is a people business, and how you treat your clients and their homeownership needs will always be important.
3. AI can flip the face of data collection and analytics.
Whether you work with homebuyers or investors, numbers are at the center of real estate. Homeowners want to know how much house they can afford, if they qualify for a mortgage and what loan terms they can expect based on their financial situation. Property investors want to know which rental will bring the highest return and what cash flow they can generate.
It is one of the agents’ many duties to help leads figure out this information in order to turn them into clients. Manual gathering and analysis of big data take a lot of time which agents do not have if they want to remain competitive.
In recent years AI has transformed the nature of data collection and analysis in real estate. Machine-learning algorithms are now able to do all required calculations and analyses much faster than humans and with zero error.
Agents may consider adding AI-based real estate data platforms into the arsenal of tools that they use to provide clients with all the numbers and figures they need to make an informed and beneficial decision. While tools like Mashvisor and Reonomy can assist agents in finding profitable deals for their leads, platforms like Roostify and Habito allow agents to optimize lending for their clients.
4. Virtual reality is becoming the norm in selling real estate.
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of VR in real estate processes. Virtual staging, 3-D tours and virtual property showings are quickly becoming the norm in real estate transactions, making procedures more efficient both for agents and buyers. Listings with virtual tours get 87% more views than those without.
5. E-closing speeds up the final stages of deals.
Helping a client find the ideal property is not the end of the journey. Agents still need to go through a few weeks of technical formalities and procedures to close the deal. Traditionally this used to require a lot of legwork and coordination among various actors.
Closing deals has become one more area where technology can help real estate agents. Remote online notarization (RON), digital escrow, e-signing and e-closing are becoming more and more popular options allowing agents to save time and boost productivity.
Sometimes agents might fear that technology may replace them in the home buying process, and this could be a reason behind the slow adoption of tech in the business. However, in 2020, 87% of buyers used an agent to purchase a house, an increase from 61% in 2001.
This rise shows that we all understand and appreciate the importance of real estate agents. Technology now offers them a unique opportunity to grow their business while putting in less effort. Considering the adoption of some of these five strategies is an effective step forward.