Realtors plan to spend 50 percent more on technology this year than they’ve spent in each of the past three years, according to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The Realtors & Technology: 2004 National Association of Realtors Technology Impact Survey Report shows that the typical NAR member is looking to spend more than $1,300 on technology products, services and training in 2004, a 52 percent increase from a median of $900 in 2000 and 2002. In 2004, Realtors expect to spend $856 on technology products, $254 on technology services and $256 on technology training.

By comparison, the typical NAR member’s promotion and marketing expenses were $1,200 during the same period.

David Lereah, NAR chief economist, said the growth in technology use over the last seven years has been amazing. “In 1997, only 26 percent of our members had Internet access; now about half of all Realtors have their own Web page,” he said. “With almost all real estate listings now available on the Internet – and seven out of 10 buyers using the Web as a tool to search for a home – we can’t even imagine a working business model today without this technology.”

NAR President Walt McDonald, broker-owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate in Riverside, Calif., said the use of high-tech products has become so prevalent that Realtors can no longer be as productive without them. He cited the fact that 95 percent of Realtors use a mobile phone, 77 percent use a digital camera, 41 percent have a DSL connection and 40 percent use PDAs. And though GPS technology is relatively new, 7 percent of Realtors report using it.

“Realtors’ appetite for technology is growing. On their wish list are wireless and PDA access to MLS listings, online floor plans, neighborhood crime and school stats, and electronic delivery and tracking of consumer disclosure statements,” McDonald said.

“Real estate professionals are embracing state-of-the-art technology that allows them to be more productive and focus on serving their clients. Realtors continue to excel in the art of high touch,” McDonald noted.

The survey shows that virtually all members–96 percent–use e-mail. About half conduct at least 25 percent of their communications with clients by e-mail and spend 4.6 hours per week checking and sending work-related e-mail. One in four uses an e-mail account through their firm, and 62 percent pay for their own account. Fifty percent of Realtors have their own Web page, up from 43 percent in 2001; another 21 percent of members plan to have a Web page in the future.

In addition, 95 percent work for a firm with a Web site and 94 percent of those sites feature real estate listings.

Realtors use technology products offered by their Multiple Listing Service, such as e-mail to buyers alerting them to new listings. The most frequently used MLS services are sales statistics, online data entry and Comparable Market Analysis software, which is used to assist in pricing homes.

Most of the survey respondents, 63 percent, were sales agents while 36 percent held a broker or associate broker license. They had been in the business for a median of eight years and typically work 42 hours per week. They were responsible for 14 transaction sides in 2003–equivalent to seven full sales–with a sales volume of $2.1 million.

The survey is the largest ever conducted by NAR. It was sent by e-mail to 270,000 members in December 2003 and generated 11,800 usable responses.

The National Association of Realtors is a trade association representing 1 million members.

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