By Laurie M. Brown
What does the “golden age of consumerism” mean for real estate agents? A lot.
As the advent of publicly accessible property data continues to evolve, the issue for Realtors becomes how well they can interpret the data on the client’s behalf, how responsive they are to inquiries and how likely they are to seamlessly manage the total customer experience. All three of those skills require a commitment to adopting marketplace efficiencies through the use of technology.
Many agents, including baby boomers, shudder when they hear the word. The truth is, though, that technology is simply an electronic way of accessing digital assets that help consumers make informed decisions and automating business practices or tasks in order to make ourselves more available and more valuable to our clients. Compartmentalized — that is, broken down into bite-size pieces and choosing only those tasks essential to our cause — is the key to taking those first, second and third steps toward making technology an agent’s friend, not foe.
That may be an oversimplified interpretation, but it works. Time and time again, we’ve seen Realtors who make an app or website’s features “their own” — consistently employing the things that work for them and their clients. In a sense, that particular tool, say a comparative market analysis, becomes their primary go-to. Instead of being overwhelmed by a plethora of available data or tools, they put as much or as little into those essential features as they want, learning as they go, and ultimately expanding both their comfort level with and reliance on technology.
It’s important to note that as much as we focus on today’s digital world — and might be somewhat intimidated by it — technology will never replace people, at least in the real estate industry. According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, despite the abundance of data contributing to the age of consumerism, more and more homebuyers and sellers are seeking counsel from real estate agents. In fact, 87 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker in 2017 — a dramatic increase from 69 percent in 2001, according to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Does it stand to reason, then, that consumers also might become overwhelmed or misguided by data at some point in the process? Hence, the role of the Realtor is even more relevant, but that doesn’t mean that tech isn’t changing the agent/client paradigm.
Technology has reshaped the agent/client relationship by diverting the “information grab” from Realtor to consumer, placing the onus on agents to exchange value in entirely new ways. The new model requires real estate agents to utilize technology as a means to an end, a mechanism that, as a standalone, is not useful in achieving the aim, yet when leveraged by a market expert who can properly interpret the data and use it to quickly respond to client needs, the relationship can be unbreakable.
In the real estate landscape, nothing has helped Realtors become more responsive than mobile technology. The anytime, anywhere access to property data and reports has afforded agents even more opportunities to convey their value to consumers.
One such digital asset is the app offered by Realtors Property Resource. Available only to Realtors, the exclusive portal offers an unparalleled platform of nationwide property data on residential and commercial properties. For example, within seconds of getting a call or text from a client, users can jump into the app, create a report and text or email it back to the client, all within seconds. Other features include the ability to use your phone’s location to search on-and-off market properties, valuations, tax and mortgage info, distressed data, flood zones, mapping, demographics, schools, neighborhoods and market trends.
In the end, real estate agents who recognize that technology is a tool that can and should be leveraged to support new ways of conducting business and building successful relationships will lead the way. Educating consumers has become our best asset. We should use it to our advantage.
Laurie M. Brown is the marketing communications manager for Realtors Property Resource. She develops content and strategies that help Realtors build their respective businesses using RPR’s property database and analytical reporting tools.
Interested in submitting a column or idea to Houston Agent magazine? Contact editor Rincey Abraham at [email protected]