There’s a lot of technology out there for real estate. If you’re a consumer, there are sites for searching, tools for saving interesting properties, and newspaper and other local media sites for helping find a neighborhood that’s a great fit.
If you’re a real estate professional, there are all manner of websites, from my-12-year-old-niece-made-this-with-Dreamweaver up through WordPress content management system (CMS) and Joomla sites into custom CMS platforms that are uniquely tuned to your business.
Then there’s all the social stuff: the social media and network sites, the social media monitoring, the monitoring of emerging social monitors, your fifth-grade hall monitor, and the analytics to go with it.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget all the flavors of property search to integrate, aggregate, syndicate and so on: iFrame property search, map-based plug-ins for your WordPress site, and custom Internet Data Exchange integrations and feeds.
It’s nearly a full-time job just to figure out and find the best technology — which is why there are nearly 9 million results on Google for "real estate technology best practices." I hope you’ve read them all.
But for brokers and agents playing at the top of the techno-real-estate sphere, you aren’t going to find a lot of common tech tools that they use everyday. The thing you will find common among them is that they’re thinking about how they use technology.
Regular readers of this column know that I like tech stuff. But I’ll let you in on the biggest truth that is often missing from tech cheerleaders: It isn’t about the technology at all.
The agents and brokers I’m fortunate enough to know who are doing well and using technology successfully don’t have similar technology tools — they have a similar outlook on technology.
If all the software and other techie stuff you’re messing with is driving you crazy, perhaps it’s time to take a look at your organization and your process. Take a moment and get back to basics.
You could, for example, start at the very beginning and ask yourself why you use technology at all. This is a real question. I know some successful agents and brokers who don’t have websites or blogs.
Some don’t even know much about using a word processor. But this isn’t holding them back in terms of running a successful real estate practice.
Here are some thoughts to get you started thinking about your process and organization first, and your technology second. It might be worth writing down your answers and working with a business partner or mentor.
- When you want to communicate in a meaningful way with your past customers, what technology do you use? Does it work (i.e., do you have meaningful communication with past customers)?
- When you want to communicate with the greatest number of your past customers, what technology do you use? Does it work (i.e., do a large number of past customers receive your communication)?
- When you want to find new customers, what technology do you use? If you use more than one, which one results in the most new customers?
- When you want to turn potential new customers into actual customers, what technology do you use? Does it work?
- What technology are you using and/or paying for that you haven’t mentioned above?
While all of those questions are focused on technology, if you are asking and answering these questions with someone you trust you will naturally begin discussing your business process and how it relates to the tech you use.
Perhaps you’ll discover gaps where you need to find better tools. Perhaps you’ll discover a glut where you have more tools than you really use.
Most importantly, I hope this helps you choose technology that works for your business instead of the other way around.