As a customer, I find myself purchasing more and more online than ever before. From buying my airline and concert tickets, to reserving a hotel room to reconciling my monthly banking, to researching everything and anything, I am online!
In our ever-changing world, it is critical that real estate professionals know as much, if not more, than their tech savvy consumers.
This old dog (I’m 44 years old) must learn new tricks. I must incorporate the use of the Internet to help me both prospect for new business and wisely market my existing business. Technology can be a tremendous help in this area. I must control it and not vice versa. Not only does automation propel me light years ahead, the ease at which I can do business is enhanced. I used to send a print newsletter to my sphere; today I can send an e-newsletter, which saves me time and money. And I’d be lost if I didn’t have my electronic version of my database management program that keeps my calendar and my contacts.
Becoming a master of e-mail is my first step. But communicating the way my customers and clients choose to communicate is just the beginning. I must become an e-REALTOR®.
Confronted by new competitive realities, it is reassuring to know that we also have new tools to deal with these realities. To remain on top, we must face these challenges proactively and master the e-Buyer. A one-day elective course for the Accredited Buyer Representative designation was developed to tackle that challenge head-on, and it will be offered during the WRA’s Annual Convention. The e-Buyer course will be presented on Sunday, September 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Advance registration is required.
The course will address a number of items, including:
- Who is the e-Buyer, or online consumer, and how will he or she change the future of the real estate transaction?
- Just what is e-Business, and what is the structure that supports and feeds it?
- How do we find e-Buyers, or online customers, and acquire their business?
- What is the status of the online transaction now, and where is it headed in the future?
- How do we transition online and offline customers into the For Life Mode (the process of maintaining the relationship through the entire Home Ownership Lifecycle)?
- What are the opportunities, and associated challenges, for real estate professionals in this constantly evolving business environment?
We also spend time defining e-Buyers, recognizing the driving forces of e-Buyers and differentiating between generations (X, Y, etc.).
A large part of communication in the new economy includes providing better customer service. The e-Buyer expects direct response and is interested in cross-selling of our company’s products and services (title, mortgage, inspection, etc.) But, it is also critical that I remember that in this new, high-tech world, the real estate business is still one of high touch. The key is to combine the two so that our customers/clients never feel like we are not speaking their language.
Statistics show us that today more than 85 percent of buyers look online to start their homework. Consumers are savvy and armed with information before they even meet us face to face. To a great extent this has helped us do our jobs more efficiently. Buyers have narrowed their search criteria and already know specific areas of interest and areas they do not wish to investigate. We are no longer the gatekeepers of the information, but the providers of superior knowledge, quick response and excellent customer service. And that’s it!
It is of super importance that I research and know firsthand how buyers look at homes online, the value of online features like a virtual tour/streaming video, the number of homes visited, the average length of the home search, what these homes look like online, the age of my buyer household, and the actions buyers take as a result of this online search.
The physical aspects of our business have changed significantly as well. Today, we still have companies with a “bricks and mortar” presence, but we have the new entrants, which have little, if any, physical presence. They have discovered that perhaps they can exist entirely on the Web, saving them thousands of dollars in physical expenses.
VOW’s (Virtual Office Web Sites) are just one of the new models that e-Business has spawned. The Referral Model Company is another.
We seem to be living in a time that is rapidly changing … in every area of our life, in every second of our life. I wonder if our ancestors felt this way or if this is live history at its best.
A few excellent Web sites to explore are:
Marcus A. Wally, MBA, GRI, CIPS, AHWD, RSPS, TRC, is an active Florida REALTOR® in St. Augustine, Florida – “OUR NATION’S OLDEST CITY.” Marcus is the founder and broker of NEW WORLD REALTY, which manages coaching and facilitation of education classes around the world. He has an MBA from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Marcus entered the real estate profession in 1991. He is a NAR faculty member for the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) program, and is a member of the AT HOME WITH DIVERSITY faculty. Marcus can be reached at 904-669-1081 or by e-mail at email@example.com.