As we head into a new decade, it’s important to acknowledge the massive real estate industry shifts that are taking place. Most notably, power is shifting from large brokerages to top producing agents and teams, and this is creating a great divide, with the very best agents outperforming the rest of the profession.
Top agents and teams are developing their own companies and offering premium services, while others continue to work with traditional or virtual brokerages at a substantial disadvantage, unable to provide a competitive level of services for clients.
Technology plays a significant role in this shift, and to effectively support dynamic agent teams and individual top producers, it needs to evolve.
Technology’s proper place in a real estate transaction
Today, a lot of industry hype and buzzwords are focused on technology that diminishes or eliminates the agent’s role. But the reality is that the ‘killer app’ consumers most want and need is a great agent.
Giving agents the latest flashy technology is the equivalent of installing platinum rims on a car with no engine. Agents don’t need this, especially when they likely don’t even have the necessary software to solve their baseline needs!
The most valuable technology companies don’t put software between agents and their clients, but instead, put it behind the agent. This allows agents to spend more time with clients, building valuable relationships, and providing the best service, while everything else — including mundane day-to-day tasks — is handled by technology and specialized support staff.
What top agents want
We interviewed hundreds of the industry’s top agents, and their feedback revealed a strong demand for specific solutions in the following five areas of technology in 2020:
1. Foundational business infrastructure
Many platforms focus on bells and whistles, but the best ones focus on fundamental business systems that help agents get work done: email, calendar, distribution lists, secure forms, etc.
Consider that many agents still run their business off of Yahoo or AOL, and it becomes clear that solid business infrastructure with top-tier security, privacy, and application support are far more valuable than the latest AI chatbot.
2. Flexible transaction workflow tools
Unfortunately, technology still hasn’t caught up with agents’ mobile-driven lives. It’s not uncommon for an agent to get a phone call from a buyer or seller, asking, “where are we at in the process?” only to be completely stymied in the search for an answer.
To maximize productivity, top agents need flexible, mobile-friendly tools that enable easy and effective team collaboration with streamlined workflows. If, for example, the agent mentioned above could open an app, immediately see who’s assigned to a listing, and report to the client that, “the photographer just came out, and we’re almost ready to go to market,” that piece of technology is truly in service of the agent.
3. Visually elevated property marketing
Generic one-size-fits-all templates are a major turnoff to consumers. Web design has evolved by leaps and bounds since many prehistoric real estate websites were built, and an outdated online presence can negatively impact an agent’s ability to attract leads.
Not surprisingly, top agents demand web and print designs that are attractive, optimized, and customizable. Most importantly, they have to appeal to and impress modern consumers. The end product should look like it’s designed by an in-house marketing expert, not an agent playing designer in Vistaprint.
4. Data insights for optimal business growth
Without hiring a business analyst, it’s all but impossible to truly understand business performance at an individual or company level using archaic spreadsheets and old-school reports. But data is power, and the more granular, the better.
The ability to see how many homes a team has sold, the value of each property, the costs incurred to sell the home, individual and team performance metrics, marketing channel performance stats, and more — translates into a scalable, optimized business strategy. Built-in business intelligence systems with lead nurturing and team-building tools in one easily understandable dashboard lead to predictable, repeatable year-over-year growth.
5. Streamlined vendor management
The old saying ‘if you want it done right, do it yourself’ probably came from a real estate agent or broker who was tired of wrangling vendors. Managing vendors can be both time-consuming and disorganized, but today’s technology can solve that.
Every agent is familiar with this bind: your favorite stager is out of town, and you don’t have time to pore through Yelp reviews. Top agents are looking for solutions that provide sourcing, vetting, and scheduling capabilities, and a streamlined system for vendor management. Today, apps exist that allow you to requisition another highly-rated backup vendor without even picking up the phone to make a call, eliminating the time waste and inefficiency associated with traditional vendor searches.
Summing it up
Understanding how industry shifts will impact technology as we head into 2020 directly affects a top agent’s ability to scale and grow. By keeping a pulse on the technology needed to achieve buildable, repeatable growth, high-performing agents and teams can set themselves up for success in 2020 and beyond.
Side transforms high-performing agents, teams, and independent brokerages into successful businesses and boutique brands that are 100% agent-owned. Side exclusively partners with the best agents, empowering them with proprietary technology and a premier support team so they can be more productive, grow their business, and focus on serving their clients. Side is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.sideinc.com.