Compass, Keller Williams, NRT, Redfin, RE/MAX, Zillow — they’re all throwing millions of dollars into their respective technologies. While they’re duking it out, what can you do as a single agent or small brokerage to compete?
The answer is to spend about $50 per month and take advantage of the great free tools that most real estate agents ignore.
Do you think the very best technology is out of your reach financially? The answer to this question is unequivocally, “No.”
Stay 6 months ahead of the competition, and you’ll own the market
A lesson I learned early in my real estate career from Jon Douglas, the owner of the company where I worked for close to 20 years, was that being six months ahead of your competitors will allow you to dominate your market.
Today, the tools I’d recommend to achieve this goal cost less than $50 per month. Moreover, several of them are so new that your competitors probably don’t have a clue, and even if they did, they will not have incorporated them into their listing appointments.
Why it pays to be fast and first
The following chart from the most recent NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers illustrates an important fact — 74 percent of the people who list their homes only contact one agent that they hire. Another 15 percent only contact two agents.
In other words, if you’re the first agent who speaks to the seller face-to-face, chances are extremely high that you will get the listing.
The question is how can you compete with expensive call centers or the latest chatbot technology (Automabots, roof.ai, Structurely’s Asia Holmes) that either have spotty coverage and/or begin at $179 per month?
Recently I interviewed Steve Jagger, the CEO of IMRE, a Canadian real estate chatbot company. IMRE has a robust chatbot that serves most of the U.S. and much of Canada. It bills its artificial intelligence (AI) solution as a personal assistant for real estate agents and developers. “Lucy,” what IMRE has named its chatbot, has her own phone number and “lives inside your contact list.”
Lucy can answer questions, can be used on all your print and online marketing materials, and of course, is available 24/7 to answer questions from incoming leads, qualify those leads and convert them on the spot. Lucy also notifies you when a hot lead comes in.
What’s fun about the IMRE technology is that you can name your chatbot so it fits your business. Best of all — the price is only $10 per month for the professional version, and the basic version is free.
To use this on your listing appointment, explain how buyers expect an immediate response when they call on a listing. If they don’t get that response, they move on to the next property and the next agent.
Next, have the sellers call “Lucy” (or whatever you name your personal AI assistant) and have them interact with her.
If they are interviewing other agents, have them call on one of the agent’s other listings to see how long it takes them to respond. In most cases, it can be hours or even days, if they respond at all.
The agents using lead conversion chatbots report that when sellers see this technology, they are intrigued and want it for their listing. This cutting-edge approach is one of the most important reasons why they should also pay you a full commission.
The AI-powered CMA: Weiss Analytics
If you’re familiar with the Case-Shiller Weiss Index, then you know that this is the most widely quoted resource for data on whether prices are trending up or down in major metropolitan areas.
Allan Weiss, the CEO of Case-Shiller Weiss prior to their acquisition, decided to create a new tool that would allow users to apply this technology to individual houses. You can now tell whether an area’s prices will be increasing, staying flat or decreasing long before it shows up in the comparable sales. It also helps you understand trends specific to a local market.
A few days ago, I met a couple whose home had been on the market for more than six months. They had paid $600,000 and were distraught that Zillow had their home valued at $475,000.
I checked their valuation on WeissAnalytics.com and found the following:
Weiss had their value at $539,000 with a projection of increasing to $550,000 next year.
I decided to look at the comparable sales and found some surprising information there. The “implied value,” what the algorithm is saying the property is worth today if it were to come on the market, showed that even though these properties were worth $70,000-$130,000 more 24 months ago, today those values have taken a substantial plunge.
The market is predicted to recover a bit, but it’s not likely to hit the $600,000 mark for their home in the next few years.
This is a powerful tool to assist you with price reductions and persuade sellers to price their listings correctly from the start. Plus, it allows you to choose the best comparable sales, even if they’re several years old because the AI constantly adjusts values to fit today’s current market conditions.
An agent who shows up with a list of sales generated by the multiple listing service (MLS), or worse yet, has written them down by hand, doesn’t stand a chance of competing with you and this level of sophistication. The price for this tool is currently $399 per year.
3 other free strategies that your competitors probably don’t use
If you want to be a real hero to your first-time buyers, providing them with access to down payment assistance is a home run. Inman Innovator of the Year for 2011, DownPaymentResource.com aggregates all the available sources of down payment assistance.
According to CEO and founder Rob Chrane, 87 percent of U.S. properties can qualify for down payment assistance, and the current average amount each buyer receives is about $10,000.
2. CentriQ: Help them put their home maintenance on autopilot
Merely snap a photo of the serial number on the appliances in their home, and CentriQ will generate the user manuals, recall information, a maintenance schedule that comes at regular intervals, where to buy parts and much more.
The basic app is free, and you can private label it for each of your listings for about $5 per listing.
3. Ugly yard? Virtually stage it with the iScape app
Whether it’s the middle of winter or a drought has wiped out the landscaping, iScape allows you to virtually stage the exterior of your listings so potential buyers can see how the property will look when the weather improves, and/or is landscaped to their specifications.
If you want to knock out the competition on listing appointments, experiment with some of these tools. With the exception of Weiss Analytics, they’re free, and they’re sure to give you a competitive edge against other agents, regardless of how big or small their company is.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.