Top 10 Technology Trends in Real Estate


 Amy Chorew and Rebekah Radice  |    November 07, 2012
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The diverse roles that a real estate professional performs on a daily basis have remained, for the most part, unchanged over the years. What has changed is how information is delivered and exchanged. 

From cloud computing to social networks, clients are looking to us to make use of tools and technology that make both their lives and transactions easier. Creating an efficient and tactical way to use these tools within your business is a critical component to your overall marketing strategy.

Below are the top ten technology tools currently trending within the real estate industry and the ways in which they can benefit your business and your clients.

1. iPad

The iPad, a tablet computer operated by touch, has an enviable future in the real estate industry. Prior to the iPad, we were juggling multiple devices, including a smartphone and laptop. The iPad streamlines our everyday tasks and simplifies many of the typical responsibilities each REALTOR® faces.

This portable device is perfect for real estate and can be used in many situations you might not have considered until now. A few situations where your iPad would come in handy:

Open Houses:

  • Instead of asking visitors to sign a paper roster, create a sign-up sheet on your iPad. Have them sign in and give them the option to receive e-mails from you.
  • At the end of the open house, send an e-mail thanking them for attending with pertinent links. What a nice surprise to your potential buyer client!
  • Have your virtual tour and photos available on the iPad for viewing.
  • Show them the neighborhood and all the local information via an interactive map or your blog. 
Listing presentations:
  • We advocate the use of visuals during a listing presentation. Create a simple presentation to share your key marketing points. 
  • Don’t forget the power of video. Include a short video with the reasons that potential clients should work with you.
  • Make sure you e-mail all of the information to them before you leave. 
Buyer tours and showings:
  • Buyers can never remember one house from another. Put all the listing sheets complete with pictures in a folder for the buyer client. 
  • Take notes for them on the features they liked on each home.
  • Search for other properties on the web.

2. Communication tools

Social media sites like Facebook have created a shift in the way we retrieve communications. Whether it’s a message from our friends or business associates, we’ve moved much of our interaction online. This is a real “Move the Cheese” movement — a paradigm shift. We not only rely on e-mail communications; instead we have found that the process of visiting websites to interact, retrieve data and connect is also a very effective form of communication. 

We predict that local applications on your computer will become passé as computers become mere gateways to the cloud where the work is done. The browser will be all the software that you will need.

3. Cloud computing

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we do business. The ability to store, manage and process data in an online network has improved our productivity and increased our capacity to collaborate.
Google has a free set of cloud computing tools that most REALTORS® find very useful. Many use Google Calendar as an easy way to map out their day and then sync that data across multiple devices, while others find that Google Drive, formerly Google Docs, is an excellent way to work with their team. Visit www.google.com/docs to set up an account.

DropBox is a great backup solution as well. It works in the background, making mirror image copies of all of your documents as you change or create them. 

4. Mobile applications

We are on the threshold of a new era in mobile device usage that will change how we market and advertise. It is estimated that by 2014, both mobile Internet searches and use will surpass desktop usage. 

It is critical that real estate brokerages have mobile sites, not just an optimized or mobile-compliant site as consumers demand this capability. 

Visit an interactive mobile site analysis at www.howtogomo.com to determine if your website is mobile-enabled. Then visit your website or your company’s website with your smartphone. Does your website recognize the browser? Does it know you are visiting from a mobile device and creating a mobile experience? 

Just like making sure your website shows up properly in Internet Explorer or Firefox, you should be showing up properly on all the mobile browsers as well.

5. Website

By now, most real estate websites feature a fairly common set of core tools. Consumers who visit almost any well-designed, maintained site will find it possible to conduct the following activities:

  • Search for all local marketplace inventory. 
  • View multiple photos and videos for listings. 
  • Contact an agent, broker or mortgage professional. 
  • Learn “basic” information about the real estate process. 

As you structure your website, keep the needs of your clients in mind. Ask yourself how your website can implement content, tools or features that would address, in the minds of consumers, the following needs:

  • Integrity of your company — think “testimonials.” 
  • Knowledge of the process — think “learning.” 
  • Responsiveness of your company — think “instant.” 
  • Knowledge of the market — think “visuals.” 

6. Blog

Blogs offer real-time information, and that creates a fresh and relevant experience for today’s consumer. 

The content on blogs is dynamic as it is constantly updated. As it turns out, search engines favor websites with frequently updated pages, which is the nature of a blog. If you have a lot of active content, you can imagine the positive impact this has on the visibility of you and your company when a client searches for content you are posting. 

When you are smart with how you write and update your content, your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help your website appear as a result of Internet searches. 

Blogs can do the following:

  • Position you as a subject matter expert on issues and the community. 
  • Keep you top-of-mind for potential clients.
  • Be used as an outlet to drive people to your real estate listings. 
  • Establish credibility and authority.
  • Connect you with groups of interested readers.

7. Workable CRM

As it becomes more expensive to reach prospects, effectively pursue deals and close business, an effective way to manage that lead is vital. 

Warm, well-qualified leads are difficult to unearth, so we need an easy-to-use system to stay in touch with these leads. Successful selling is based on business relationships, so relationship-focused sales representatives need more than e-mail to gather and share information. Consider moving to a Contact Relationship Manager, or “CRM.” 

A CRM is a way to:

  • Track past and current clients. 
  • Create calendar tasks, to-do lists and important appointments.
  • Organize an ongoing follow-up campaign for prospects.
  • Coordinate target marketing and drip campaigns.
  • Utilize transaction management to track each step of the buying and selling process.

When considering various CRM programs, make it a point to call the tech support and ask questions related to your personal business, for example, whether an app is available and whether the system can sync with your mobile device. 

8. Video marketing

Creating your first video is an exciting step. It can also be challenging, overwhelming and downright scary. However, integrating video marketing into your online efforts is a must as we head into 2013. 

Why Use Video Marketing: Video marketing offers an endless supply of content to your website and blog and gives your visitors the opportunity to see the professional behind all of that great content. Use it for everything from educational to hyperlocal videos.

With the popularity of YouTube — we spend 2.9 billion hours on YouTube per month — adding video to your online presence can certainly be a game changer for your business.
Statistics show that 80 percent of people will watch a video, while only 60 percent will listen to an audio presentation, and a mere 40 percent will read an article.

Are you ready to get started with video?

9. Social media

Several social media websites are available to market yourself effectively as a professional. Each channel appeals to customers in a different way. If you are thinking of creating brand awareness through social media campaigns, consider the following tools:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube

If you want to market yourself as a REALTOR®, then Twitter and LinkedIn offer two very different audiences. If you want to engage potential customers and members of the online community, then Facebook and Google+ provide powerful forums. 

Once you feel comfortable within those social spheres, sites such as Diggit and StumbleUpon will only serve to enhance your social media and online presence by increasing your exposure through content sharing.

10. Automation

As marketers, we are always looking for that silver bullet — the one system or tool that will solve all of our communication problems. While automation is beneficial, it is only a complementary solution to human interaction. As our world continues to move at a faster pace than ever before, we have the tendency as marketers to automate everything we possibly can. This is a huge strategic error in converting leads.

Automatic responses and drip systems will assist in keeping you in front of your prospect but will never build relationships the way simply picking up the phone can. As you build your follow-up system, make sure weekly calls are part of your strategy. Intersperse calls with e-mails, direct mail and any social media campaigns.

As you research and evaluate new tools and systems, always make sure that it not only simplifies your life and business, but provides a better overall experience for your customers.

Amy Chorew is the VP of Platform Development for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, LLC, and is responsible for growing the brand’s educational training platform as well as creating and expanding innovative agent tools and technologies offered to the brand’s network. Since 2000, Amy has traveled the national speaking circuit, teaching industry professionals about technology strategies to improve business. Amy has more than 30 years of real estate experience, including roles in sales, marketing and training. In addition to writing books on social media for NAR, she also co-authored the NAR e-Pro® certification curriculum designed to educate real estate professionals on social media technologies and e-office strategies.

Rebekah Radice, social media strategist, content developer and trainer, has been actively involved in the real estate and mortgage industries for over 17 years. Rebekah is the Manager of Industry Engagement for Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and serves as “the voice” behind the brand. With managing social media on a daily basis, her goal is to help REALTORS® stop time-sucking activities and instead maximize, prioritize and monetize online efforts. 
 

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