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Luxury real estate buyers expect best-in-class technology in their homes. But do they expect it from the agents and firms they work with? The short answer is: yes.
Agents are under pressure to keep up regular communication with clients, maintain a nuanced understanding of their needs and preferences, streamline the sales process, build out their sphere of influence, and provide beautiful marketing materials that delight both buyers and sellers. So before they partner with a real estate brand, it’s imperative they take its technology stack into account.
For instance, Sotheby’s International Realty consolidated its proprietary and third-party tools into a single marketing suite, CURRENT, in order to offer seamless solutions to agents and premium service to clients. What should you look for in a firm’s tech stack? Here’s what two leading luxury agents suggest.
Simplify marketing, closing, and client services
“The most important items to focus on for agents are marketing their listings and lead generation,” says Dusty Baker, Luxury Real Estate Agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Montecito, California. “Real estate brands should provide tools that make these two items easier for the agent and more straightforward for the client. At a minimum, agents should have access to a solid CRM, email platform, and client marketing report system.”
With solutions such as ActivePipe to automate and personalize email marketing, Cloze to provide integrated customer relationship management, and ListTrac to monitor listings across various channels, a suite like CURRENT adds critical value for luxury agents.
“We also handle over 100 transactions per year, so having a system and process that’s centralized is key to performing on the go,” adds Jonathan M. Spears, Team Leader at Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty. “That’s especially true when the majority of our deals take place outside the office on our smartphones.”
Buy into quality over quantity
Technology promises to streamline your services and operations, but only if the tech itself is streamlined. When your apps and platforms start to sprawl, productivity will suffer. “One of the ways I see agents fail is having too many balls in the air,” says Baker. “Different apps on their phone, gadgets they sign up for at conferences, etc.”
Spears agrees. “I believe that it’s imperative that real estate brokerages create technology that allows their agents to focus on daily activities that are geared towards transacting and not busywork,” he says. When your tech stack is built piece by piece without a coherent strategy, trying to coordinate and consolidate information across platforms begins to take more time than your mission-critical tasks.
“Agents need to ask companies where the rubber meets the road with the technology being provided,” suggests Baker. “What problem are they solving? Do they have any evidence to support that it actually works day-to-day? How are clients receiving it? Is the data they are providing coming from similar markets to your own?”
Consider both proprietary and third-party tech
When assessing a firm’s technology stack, it’s common to look for best-of-breed apps that are well known and well-liked in the industry. But sometimes it’s custom software that can add considerable value to a tech lineup.
“We use a lot of the resources that Sotheby’s International Realty provides, but one of my favorite tools is Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty℠,” says Spears. “I primarily serve as a listing agent for my Florida-based sales team, and we have been able to leverage Curate to secure and market a variety of new construction single-family properties. Curate allows me to virtually stage and showcase an unfinished space to a prospective buyer or seller.”
For Baker, the focus is on the applications that drive his day-to-day workflows. “I streamline email marketing through ActivePipe, Facebook ads through SocialAdEngine, and manage relationships with Cloze. Not only is this all making my life easier, but it’s also freeing up time for my Director of Marketing to focus his energy elsewhere as well.”
Measure your marketing success
When signing on with a firm, Spears not only considered the client-facing tech stack that would enable him to market properties but the operations behind the scenes. “I was already familiar with some of the digital marketing tools that Sotheby’s International Realty provided from a consumer standpoint,” says Spears. “Once I saw the backend of their system, the technology provided was a major point of decision.”
After all, listing your properties is only half the story. Your tech stack also needs to track the numbers so you can prove your progress in selling clients’ homes. “I find the backend marketing logs to be vitally important to consistently showcase to our sellers what we are doing to promote their homes,” explains Baker. “I emphasize in my listing presentations that I talk a big game with marketing, but I prove it with the numbers in our Client Marketing Reports.”
Having a tech stack that you can deploy strategically on both the buying and selling side is a critical differentiator. “We have become intentional on empowering our team with the tools provided through CURRENT,” says Spears. “And we’ve seen some exceptional growth by streamlining our processes in CURRENT both on the listing and selling side.”
Find a brand with history that’s embracing the future
In the luxury real estate space, history and heritage carry a lot of weight with buyers and sellers, but name recognition alone is not enough. “It was very important to me to see that a legacy brand like Sotheby’s International Realty heavily invests in technology,” says Baker. “It shows they are progressive and not just resting on the laurels of their brand.”
It also shows a commitment, above all else, to the clientele. “The best advice I could share is to seek out a luxury brand that can elevate your business through a mix of proprietary tech and global media partnerships — which ultimately allows you to offer the most value to prospective clients,” says Spears.
“I would advise agents to join a company that strategically and consistently invests in technology,” adds Baker. “I say strategically because I see far too many companies aimlessly unveiling new ‘technology’ that doesn’t offer solutions to relevant issues. And I say consistently because it is important to join a company that is always looking to better itself — in technology and beyond.”
About Sotheby’s International Realty
Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.
The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.