Long Live the Real Estate Agent
The real estate agent is dead. Wait – what? More than a few tech mavens of the Internet Era have predicted the demise of the real estate agent and yet here we are: after 15 years of naysayers and the most profound housing crisis of our lifetimes, we have one million agents in the USA – more than when those predictions were first made. Moreover, FSBOs are at a historic low and agent-assisted transactions are at an all-time high of 88%, per NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
The question is why? The Internet has largely fulfilled the promise of delivering rich information to prospective home buyers and sellers and now arguably provides consumers easy 24/7 access to more information than even agents had at their fingertips in years past. In fact, NAR’s 2013 Digital House Hunt study points out that 90% of consumer home searches involve the Internet, up from 71% in 2003.
Why You Need to Invest in Technology
The reason that the real estate agent hasn’t gone the way of the cassette tape is that data isn’t enough. When consumers are about to make what for most will be the single biggest financial and lifestyle decision of their lives, they want someone there that has the expertise and experience to advise them no matter how much data they already have.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that, as an agent, you can no longer rely on being the data gatekeeper to impress your prospects. You can bet that they’ve been on Zillow 30 minutes before your meeting and probably several times every day in the past week. This means you have to take your game up a few notches and meet your prospects where they are with real-time data, ditch the carrier pigeon and the cryptic paper printouts, and prove that you’re as up-to-the-minute as they are.
Interested? Great, because there are several Realtor-friendly tools like this. First is TouchCMA (now Moxi Present), the real-time CMA, market analysis and presentation tool. TouchCMA gives real estate professionals access to live MLS data from within their CMA presentation using either their laptop or iPad.
Second is Realtors Property Resource (RPR), a member benefit for NAR members that allows you to access and analyze the vast amounts of data that have been aggregated by RPR so you can demonstrate your expertise.
Finally, check with your MLS; many of them are starting to offer mobile data access tools either as a member benefit or for a fee.
But investing the time and money into buying and learning these new tools is a hassle, you say? That may be, but if you don’t do it others will. If a prospect interviews three agents, two of whom have only paper and one of whom brings an iPad and engages the prospect in an interactive conversation, who do you think will win their business?
It’s All a Matter of Perspective
Still not convinced? Instead of looking at learning new technology as a necessary evil, turn that around. Since prospects today already have a lot of data before they engage you, you get to skip right to the part where you get to show your expertise. If you pick up where their data leaves off, it’s a shorter path to convincing a listing client of the right price to list their house at, or the potential buyer to narrow their search so you don’t spend countless hours chauffeuring them around.
In addition, the benefit of embracing the technology that gives you and your prospect real-time data is something most agents don’t think about enough: time savings.
The more you can cut time out of winning a client and managing a client, the more you’ll be on your way to doing what high performance agents do, namely closing more deals faster.
That’s the real promise of all this computing stuff anyway, to save time and make people more efficient. For example, the NAR study tells us that the average buyer takes 12 weeks to buy a home, but contacts an agent three weeks into their search. That means agents spend an average of nine weeks with the buyer to help them buy their house. What would it mean to your business if better collaboration with real-time data cut that to eight weeks? That’s 11% faster, which means you just got back a lot of time to find and work with new clients.
So while you might have to invest some time to learn it, this new crop of real-time search and presentation tools for the iPad and Internet will save you a lot of time down the road. Which means they’ll help you get and close more listings, and who doesn’t want that?