By Peter Ricci
Here’s an eye-opening stat for you: according to the latest studies by Forrester, a prominent research firm based in Cambridge, Mass., text messages increased 14 percent from 2010 to 2011, and in 2011, more than two trillion texts were sent in the U.S., or six billion a day. Suffice to say, in America, we love us some text messaging.
In a business like real estate, where communication is paramount, such data should definitely appeal to real estate agents, though it does raise an essential question – sure, text messaging is widely used, but how can agents use it for their clients? To answer that, we’re taking a look at some of the pros and cons of texting.
Real Estate Texting: Pros
There are decided benefits to texting with clients, including:
- Need for Speed – Instant gratification is the norm for today’s technologically-savvy consumers, and phone calls can be so darn slow sometimes. According to the latest REAL Trends Online Performance Survey, 89 percent of consumers said response time was “very important” when choosing their agent – and what form of communication is faster and more convenient than texting? So to immediately answer your client’s questions and provide them with updates, texting is great.
- Working Relations – Text messaging with clients can also be an excellent way to build a strong relationship with your client. Though that may sound a bit obtuse, texting is a highly informal, organic style of communication, and by interacting with clients via that method – and maybe having a little fun with emoticons and the like – could benefit your relationship with your clients.
Real Estate Texting: Cons
As clear as the benefits are for sending clients text messages, the negatives are equally clear:
- Information Deprivation – We mentioned that texting can be great for providing quick blasts of information, a la answering client’s questions and providing them with updates, and that’s as far as they can go, pretty much. Because of the medium’s small scale (and limitations of our fingers!), you won’t use texting to explain the details of your client’s escrow account, or go over the MLS copy for the listing, or engage in any other detailed, nuanced explanation – unless, of course, your client enjoys reading 500 word text messages!
- Land of the Lost Meaning – The other detriment to texting is that meaning can be a very slippery devil. When talking to someone, you can use inflections of the voice and other variations to show how you intend something to mean, but in writing, it can be much more difficult to communicate meaning, and the last thing you want is for a client to interpret something you text in the wrong light.
- Emoticon Overload – Even though we just mentioned emoticons as a ‘pro’ of texting, we must also point out that they should be used with extreme moderation. Though emoticons may assist you in communicating the meaning of a text, which will help with the con just mentioned, it does not look very professional when every message you send is littered with and and >:0 and :’( and :/.
So, to text or not to text? It will probably come down to your respective clients, and how they expect to be communicated with. Anne Blumenstein, with ERA Franchise Systems,told our Chicago affiliate that texting is particularly important as Generation Y consumers enter the real estate market, while Nina Fotopoulos, the managing broker of Coldwell Banker in Hinsdale, said she always opts for whatever communication method her clients use the most, texting included.
But even if they do request text messages, be considerate of the pros and cons.