Future of real estate: knowledge-driven services

Originally published by Bryan Robertson, broker, Bryan Robertson Homes, on ActiveRain.

The average consumer has more real estate information available to them today than most agents had just 10 years ago. They get listings from sites such as Trulia or Zillow, online tax records in many states, and even “sold” statistics.  Moreover, between bloggers and professional writers, many communities are so well-documented that buyers can feel at home, even from thousands of miles away. Consumers are awash in information, to the point of overload. All that information is, ultimately, useless without the expertise to apply it.

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Changing information into knowledge
Corporations have been generating information for decades. All that information became useful when experts changed it into “knowledge” that decision-makers could use. They did this by analyzing the information to look for patterns and quirks that made one piece of information more important than another. This led to understanding “how” and “why” when making decisions. This is the future of real estate information.

Real estate agents are the experts that can take information and turn it into knowledge, upon which action can be taken. For example, a consumer can find the sales prices of all homes in a neighborhood just like an agent. However, a consumer lacks the expertise needed to compare these sales and the circumstances around which they took place. The real estate agent knows how much a home sold for, how many offers it had, and other factors that help make the analysis of bidding on the next home better. Agents enable consumers to make a truly informed decision.

Not all agents are equal
The industry, however, is full of agents who, for one reason or another, lack the necessary expertise to convert information to knowledge. This is one reason many consumers prefer to read myriad articles online and skip the agent for a while. They load up on information in the hope that, at some point, the information becomes knowledge. It rarely happens. They will evolve to agents who can bridge the perception gap between contract writers and knowledgeable experts.

The agent of the future has to be prepared to take any information available and change it to actionable knowledge almost instantly. These agents have the tools necessary to discuss everything from remodeling pricing to a complete market analysis in minutes while standing in the home their clients want to buy. The technology and information are all there — they just have to be focused into knowledge that can be acted upon by the client.

Technology is only the conduit
While the obvious 800-pound gorilla in the room is the use of technology, many agents resist using technology to its fullest potential, and even good agents still fail to use it properly. The answer to delivering knowledge isn’t the use of technology, it’s the application of technology to enable a compelling service experience.

Let me clarify that.

Sitting in a house with a buyer and burying your nose in a tablet for 10 minutes while you create a comparative market analysis (CMA) will not impress the client. Having a draft CMA prepared in advance of the meeting, then updating it in 60 seconds during a conversation, will definitely impress them. The difference is service — specifically, the speed, accuracy and method by which delivery of knowledge is your service. How well you do that, as powered by your expertise and appropriate use of technology, is the key to success … and the future.