By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
Technology is advancing at a rate that can be overwhelming, confusing, and downright scary. As an agent, you need to be able to keep up with the technology changes happening around you in order to be competitive and grow your business. There are massive shifts happening in real estate, some of which seem to be looming, ready to take over any moment.
For those of you who are worried about what the future holds, here are a few things you should be aware of and what you can do to prepare.
AI technology is getting personal. Almost too personal. AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology now enables users in the real estate market to evaluate communities based on a broad range of data and draw insights that allow them to pin-point potential buyers. The data itself, which is often related to things like purchasing behavior, home buying history, and internet activity, digs deep into who buyers are and what stage in life they are in. Once AI is used to identify these prospects, the systems then take it a step further and actually market to those individuals directly. This process can be performed on a massive scale and in record time, giving users a major advantage. According to NAR, 51% of last year’s homebuyers found the home they chose to purchase online- an unsurprising statistic based on the direction this technology is headed.
Hold on tight. As you know, today’s seller-powered real estate market is fast paced and the need for quick response and follow-up times is higher than ever. Brace yourself – AI technology is taking it to a whole new level with the creation of chatbots. These bots are preprogrammed with answers to questions frequently asked by homebuyers and can provide them with in-depth information that likely surpasses what agents themselves may have knowledge of. The way in which agents are actually incorporating bots into their businesses varies. From engaging with clients online to physically bringing chatbots to open houses to greet and service the buyers directly – this technology is clearly changing the way agents interact with their clients in a massive way.
Changing the game. You’re likely somewhat familiar, but Instant Offers is a program developed by Zillow that uses technology to re-shape the home selling process while embracing ultimate levels of usability and efficiency.
How it works – Homeowners who are interested in selling their home provide Zillow with basic information and snap shots of the home, which has not yet been listed. If Zillow is interested they will quickly make a cash offer (it only takes a few days) which the seller can then choose to accept or decline, after receiving a CMA estimate provided by a Zillow Agent. Instant Offers claims that if the seller accepts an offer, they have control over the timeline of the sale and the ability to choose the closing date, a major selling point of the program. Once Zillow buys a home they may make renovations to increase its value before assigning it to a Zillow Agent and listing it.
Intriguing, but completely frightening, am I right? Not to worry.
What you can do:
Step up your technology game. It’s clear that technology is the way of the future, so it’s time to stop fighting it and discover how it can help you gain a competitive edge. If you aren’t already using one, it’s time to consider switching to an open platform for your real estate tech. This will allow you to seamlessly translate data from one part of your business to the next while maximizing efficiency and increasing your likelihood of keeping up. Dig deep into your methodology for areas that could benefit from incorporating new technology – getting your data and business set up to eventually get a chatbot of your own, for instance, would likely be a worthy investment. Not only would it take care of initial lead nurturing, freeing you up to focus on more pressing needs, but you can also employ it to gather more information about what your clients are looking for before you actually interact with them. An estimated 80% of businesses have already implemented, or plan to implement chatbots into their businesses, so the move should definitely be on the table.
Look beyond the numbers. I know, I know – staring at numbers may not always be thrilling, but the stories behind them will make or break your business. There are tools available to you today that allow you to skip the math and let computers do the work – so no excuses. Essential, you need to actually utilize the data you have to differentiate and target your marketing efforts. Take time to examine what marketing channels are generating leads and creating an ROI and which ones could use some improvements. AI is already steps ahead of you, so using your resources wisely is a must in order to remain competitive and stand a chance in winning over the leads you have your eye on.
Make it personal. The appeal created by the efficient and user-friendly experience offered by AI technology makes it all the more important for Agents to nurture their sphere – before, during, and after a sale. Similarly, chatbots may be flashy and helpful for the beginning stages of a relationship – but they aren’t humans. Emphasizing the personal and comfortable buying experience that you offer is important – it’s really one of the only aspects of real estate that AI can’t compete with. Instant Offers is all about simplifying and creating a predictable experience for sellers. This means that Agents need to be transparent and make sure that sellers are well prepared for what going through the process with you will look like. Keeping your CRM updated will help you remember the details and celebrate the little things like house-iversaries, which lets clients know you are invested and will likely keep them coming back.
Keep it fresh. Fantastic, you’re ready to have a chatbot do the dirty work and your marketing efforts are on-point. Although these currently might be vital to your success, technology is constantly evolving so you must evolve too. Make sure not to get too stuck in your ways and stay in-touch with the happenings and advances in the real estate market. Pay attention to the information that your tech providers give you, and make sure that you are optimizing your use of the newest tools and features they provide you with.
Become their go-to consultant. The process for buying and selling homes that Instant Offers has created eliminates several of the steps that have traditionally been left up to the agent. This means it is vital that you articulate to the client what role you play in the process and the advantages that you specifically bring to the table. For most clients, especially those who are not well-versed in home selling, the decision of whether or not to accept an offer is likely something that they will want to get an expert’s two-sense on. As the agent you must emphasize the value that your experience and knowledge of the industry has in evaluating whether it is in the seller’s best interest to actually accept the offers that they receive. 89% of successful home buyers say that they would use their agent again. You are irreplaceable – don’t forget it.