Real Estate + Technology

Technology_RealEstate_141901856

By Nataleigh Ballantyne

Real estate is an industry privy to it all. It survives market crashes, community developments and technological advancements. 

It is an industry which agents not long ago relied solely on a weekly publication of all current listings on the market. It has adapted almost instantly to technological advancements, from fax machines and pagers to emails and smartphones; from a binder full of paper listings to an entire online database and marketplace of properties.

The real estate industry is one of survival and adaptation. 

It highlights great innovation in the way business is done, not only for the agents but also for the home buying/selling experience.

Real estate is a unique field, where entrepreneurship is at the root and a passion for making dream homes a reality, is an everyday goal. With the consumer always top-of-mind, technology has not only changed how business is done, but it has also changed the experience a consumer can expect.  The Internet has made it easier than ever for a consumer to find information.  From touch screen displays delivering listing presentations, to instant text messages scheduling an open house and blog posts providing answers to top Real Estate questions. It’s a brave new world.

With 89 per cent of new home buyers using a mobile device to begin their search,1 RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic has leveraged the importance of innovative ideas and technology to recruit and retain the most productive agents in Canada.

Through programs like Curbside Marketing, an exclusive program to RE/MAX, consumers can receive property information instantly via SMS or QR codes.  This solves the age-old challenge of a potential client trying to remember the agent’s name on the lawn sign or the property’s address as they drive by a home. It gives consumers exactly what they’re looking for and when they’re looking for it right on their mobile device. 

With the development of mobile technology and the power of tablets, real estate professionals are conducting their business in a whole new way.

For example, RE/MAX agents have the exclusive use of the RE/MAX Design Centre. Design Centre is a tool that allows agents the ability to create all their marketing materials online or on their tablet, share them with one click to social platforms, publish them as links to the Web and track all their respective analytics all at once. This way, agents can provide much more feedback to their clients than just how many potential buyers walked through their front door.

Using Apps for everything from cloud storage to task lists, open house registration, photos and videos, listing presentations and mortgage calculators, these advancements have reinvented the real estate experience, and not only for the consumer.  App development for mobile, such as Haiku Deck has allowed agents to adapt a more visual focus to their listing presentations and present them on an iPad.  Similar to the visual movements of Instagram and Facebook, agents are finding new ways to share information via images.

With the popularity of sites such as Pinterest, visual consumption online is no trend. Consumer websites such as Remax.ca have adapted to provide the best user experience online by adding a gallery view when doing a property search. According to Addy Saeed of RE/MAX Active Realty, these advancements have helped to create “better listing exposure, faster sales process from prospecting to close”.

Again on the consumer side, apps such as Open Home Pro have revitalized the experience of signing in and having a beautiful, visual interface when being welcomed into an Open House.

Tablets have allowed agents to create a new digital experience for home buyers and sellers.  They have allowed agents to do multiple tasks at a fast pace; update their Facebook, record and edit a video, respond to an email, highlight and sign back a document and meet face-to-face via platforms such a Google hangouts, Facetime or Skype.

All of these advancements have led to agents being able to share, connect and contact consumers faster than ever.  They’re able to use social media to respond to inquiries, they can record and send a video of a property to buyers who are un-able to see it live themselves; they no longer have to confine the agreement process to an office setting. 

The buyer’s experience has also changed due to the technological advancements of Mobile devices.  Consumers can expect to go through nearly the entire real estate process with little or no paper required. Agents are utilizing the latest online marketing strategies, moving beyond newspaper ads and farming communities with print material. Social media, curbside marketing and video are now a standard practice in a marketing campaign.

Ninety per cent of home buyers start their search on the Internet.2  Often, buyers already know how to find a property with the qualities they need and in a price range they can afford.  More than ever, real estate professionals need to capitalize on the consumer experience. Consumers expect their properties are listed online. They will want to contact their agent by SMS or Twitter. They’ll want to share the great content their agent is providing, and most importantly, they’ll want to recommend the great experience they had.  And this is where technology has really improved real estate. 

It’s now easier than ever to connect, respond and find information via social media. There’s never been a better time, or a more public space, for agents to have clients talk, recommend or thank them. Consumers using social media platforms to express their experience are a great tool for sales professionals. 

Technology has allowed agents to really focus on their communities and encourages them to reach beyond the listing and open house.  It has given a chance for true leaders to shine through: those who know how to use the tools to convert online leads into offline sales.

Technology has also improved the ability to market and search for homes around the world.  With sites such as global.remax.ca, consumers are able to search for properties in 36 languages and in any currency.  This helps agents attract overseas buyers, and provides information to their current clients whose first language is not English.  This powerful tool allows for consumers to attend an open house and find feature sheets in multiple languages, allowing agents to cater to diverse communities and meet their demands. 

With all of the advancements, there is no replacing face-to-face communication and engagement when it comes to real estate. With our extreme exposure to digital devices, the offline experience is more crucial than ever.  The flash and flair of online tools delivers better marketing, organization and lead generation, but it puts real estate professionals in the hot seat to excel when they have a client face-to-face.  This is where the real experience begins, and where Canada’s most productive agents shine.

Nataleigh Ballantyne is a Technology Coach with RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

1 Source: “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate” A Joint Study from The National Association of REALTORS® and Google, 2013
2 Source: “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate” A Joint Study from The National Association of REALTORS® and Google, 2013

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