• In a real estate world that has become automated and automatic, it's important, now more than ever, to connect personally with our clients.
  • While technology is doing a lot of our heavy lifting, we should look for additional ways to create value for our clients.
  • Technology is changing our industry and probably faster and on a larger scale than we realize.

When my dad got his real estate license back in 1998, most of his time was spent looking for one thing — exposure. If you wanted somebody to pay attention to you as a real estate professional, or if you needed to expose a property that you’re listing to potential buyers, you had to work for it.

You had to call your newspaper to place ads. You had to host open houses and meet people. You had to door knock and cold call. If you were successful in real estate, it’s because you were hustling to get that exposure.

Exposure was the name of the game, and the currency that we paid to get it was our time, energy and effort.

A whole new real estate world

After a 10-year hiatus, my dad has decided to get serious about real estate again. He picked a new office, took some refresher courses and dived back in. He called and asked me questions about various ideas or questions.

But after talking to him a few times on the phone, something became very obvious to me. Like many new real estate agents at the beginning of their journeys, he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing.

Not because he was a new agent, but because most of the things that he used to do every day back in 1998, the staples of his daily hard work, were now being done for him automatically with technology.

Set it and forget it?

In 2016, exposure, marketing, communication, the essentials of our business, are no longer prizes to be won as a reward for our hard work. They are now our normal. They are the baseline that we build our business is off.

Because of websites and portals like Zillow and its counterparts or any social media site, all of these real estate activities are much like breathing. They are naturally occurring and happening with little to zero thought or effort on our part.

Instead of spending days physically working on our business, we set up landing pages that automatically take registrants and put them into a drip campaign.

When we get phone calls, we have voicemail and auto responders that handle our missed messages and texts. We have Facebook ads that can target specific people in specific areas — all without physically having to interact with them.

Every aspect of our business can now be automated, which can be a tremendous asset for our productivity or a tremendous liability for our credibility.

More like set it and regret it

You know the saying “work smarter, not harder”? I hate that saying. You know who else hates it? Anybody who is considering hiring you as his or her agent. I’m pretty sure your client wants you to work smart and hard.

Have you ever talked with the owner of an expired listing and asked him or her why the house didn’t sell the previous time around? Eight times out of 10, that homeowner will say that he or she felt the real estate agent did not work hard enough.

Clients won’t say the real estate agent had a subpar landing page. They won’t say their real estate agent did not have the right systems and software. Right or wrong, all the owner sees is a lack of effort. And what about for sale by owners?

Do you think their only objection is the money? Of course not. Their objection is that they don’t believe the agent works hard enough to deserve the compensation. We still blame the owner for not understanding our value. Is that their fault or ours?

Don’t get me wrong; I love technology. As I am wearing my Apple Watch, I am dictating these words with voice to my iPhone 6 Plus. I love all things technological. Please know that I am a tech geek.

This is not a knock on technology. This is a knock on allowing technology to do our hard work for us. This is a knock on becoming reactionary and passive agents, while technology does all of the heavy lifting.

As real estate agents, we are embracing technology that can exponentially increase our productivity, make us more money and give us more free time. But at the same time, that same technology is creating opportunities for us to disconnect from our clients and consumers. We are looking less like real estate people, and more like real estate robots.

Are we replacing ourselves?

And keep this in mind, there are companies popping up, more now than ever, that look like threats to our livelihoods. These companies are using technology to find ways to serve the public — and sometimes by cutting out the real estate agent.

Time after time when this happens, real estate agents stand up and say, “That’ll never work, people need real estate agents. Real estate agents can never be replaced by technology.”

Now, with that in mind, take a look at your current business model. Look at how much of it is already automated with technology. Think about how much of your job is done for you already, every day. The exposure, the communication, the marketing, the follow-ups, etc.

So, you still don’t think technology can replace the real estate agent?

Maybe it can; maybe it can’t. Either way, technology has redefined our role in real estate, and it’s just getting started.

Robert Wagener is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Edwardsville, Illinois. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

Email Robert Wagener.

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