The three technology megatrends driving change across the real estate industry are now well established. But human behaviour is changing as our capability to do more in less time increases. This in turn is changing consumer expectations. Here’s what you need to know to navigate the future now.
The cloud has revolutionised business life for real estate agents. Ten years ago, every technology purchase required a $15,000 outlay, someone to come to install it and three days of training. Technology was stand alone and proprietary. Software was a product you had to buy off a shelf.
But software is now a service. The cloud has fundamentally changed technology and now everything is connected. It’s possible to move seamlessly between applications and devices.
And it’s cheap. Where we once spent thousands, we now pay $15 a month for a subscription after a free trial period. Agents can test and experiment with new programs easily and affordably without risk, before deciding to adopt them.
Mobile phones are now remote controls for our lives. We use them to coordinate events, see who’s nearby, research purchases, look up information and find locations.
With the rise of mobile, agents have enjoyed efficiency benefits including accessing information about properties while on the road, shooting video from their phone and sending reports without going back to the office.
Most importantly, customers are now always connected. Buyers and sellers engage with real estate businesses from wherever they happen to be, at whatever time suits them. And they increasingly expect a quick response. In a world where you can phone, text or email at the touch of a button to express interest in a property, agents who take three days to respond just don’t cut the mustard.
Every real estate agent has data – from your CRM, local market knowledge, filing cabinets, email contacts and third party market data from providers such as CoreLogic. But there is a difference between ‘lots of data’ and big data.
The purpose of big data is to help understand not just your own business, but the broader property market and your performance in it, and to better understand clients, how to service them better and identify potential clients faster than your competitors. Used properly, big data allows better decisions to be made based on fact, not assumptions.
For insights to be derived from such large data sets, serious scaled analytical capability is required together with access to a multitude of exclusive data sets. This then feeds back to your business in the form of valuable insights and decision points.
Technology is an enabler and an amplifier of human behaviour. It’s not a cure for bad behaviour. If agents don’t get the human connection right and offer excellent, professional and client focused service, great technology won’t save them.
Technology increases our capability, so we can achieve more in less time. In turn, increased capability changes our behaviour; once we recognise it is more efficient to use technology, we come to rely on it and our behaviour changes. Once behavioural change occurs, our expectations change. And changed expectations become the platform from which new technologies are born.
Google has identified the rise of the “micro- moment”, which is defined as “a digital reflex” that is the intersection between mobile and consumer behaviour.
Micro-moments occur when we use what was previously down time – such as sitting on public transport, waiting in a queue, having a coffee – to do something useful. According to Google, 90 per cent of smartphone users use their phone to make progress towards a long term goal while out and about. This includes buying a house, a car or even completing a degree.
One of Apple’s biggest influences on modern life has been to deliver devices and solutions that don’t require a manual. This has given rise to the behaviour identified as “instant skilling”, which is the desire by consumers to use new solutions intuitively straight out of the box. Behaviourally, we are impatient with the need to take the time to learn new things. This has led to the rise of short videos as learning tools, and the importance of quality user experiences online where the consumer is at the centre. Get this wrong and consumers will simply walk away.
In areas that are extremely complicated or have multiple steps, concierge treatment is required allowing consumers to connect (ideally with a real human being), receive help instantly and be guided through the process.
Sharing an article of interest with friends on Facebook, posting out links on Twitter or sharing a job ad on LinkedIn are all examples of social sharing. We’re all “content curators”, but that doesn’t mean we’re all good at it.
Share good content that is useful, thoughtful and targeted at the right people, and your profile rises. However, the reverse is also true. Post poor quality content that’s rife with self-promotion, difficult to understand or slow to load, and your social profile is debited.
Developing a strong social profile is important because it ties directly to your offline profile and is credited as a factor in why many vendors only call in one or two agents to interview before selecting who to list with.
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