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Luxury real estate companies have been accelerating their digital adoption for some time, but the past year has marked a turning point. For many industries, 2020 required them to embrace software solutions like never before in order to stay productive; the real estate space was no different.
For Parke Madden, a Real Estate Agent with Sotheby’s International Realty – Cape Cod Brokerages, this trend is familiar. “My background in sales started decades ago as a third-generation antiques and fine art dealer, and I saw early on how technology was the best way to survive a challenged market,” he says. “Those who didn’t embrace online auctions and ecommerce went out of business.”
Now that there’s no returning to the business models of yesterday, agents need to know how to make the most of their tech stack today to become ready and agile for tomorrow. Here are five insights from luxury real estate professionals who like to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
1. Find a CRM that puts relationships first
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a luxury agent’s best friend, and Shirley Yoon, a Broker and Certified International Property Specialist at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Toronto, notes that it is integral to her success. For both her and Madden, Cloze has proven particularly helpful.
“From a lead or referral entering the pipeline to closing and maintaining the post-transaction relationship, Cloze is the platform that I use from start to finish,” says Yoon. “It integrates with countless apps and automatically keeps track of everything related to clients or properties—emails, calls, texts, showings, and files. The AI prompts you on reply reminders, action items, and deadlines.”
Whether Cloze is your first choice or not, an intelligent CRM can help you stay connected, and is a foundational tool for today’s active agents.
2. Create a holistic, integrated tech stack
Integrations are critical. As you bring together a real estate-focused technology stack for you and your team, you want solutions that share information and work together so that you’re not always toggling between disparate dashboards and data sources.
“Try many software apps until you find the one that efficiently weaves into your work style and shares data with complementary applications,” says Madden. “Remember, the goal is to let the apps do the tedious work so you can focus on your clients’ interests.”
3. Support your clients’ fast transactions
Luxury real estate is currently moving at mach speed. Buyers—many of whom are entering the market for the first time—are relocating for properties that will let them live the lifestyle they want, and sellers are seizing on this opportunity. In such a fast-paced environment, clients are ready to close anytime, anywhere—and agents need to be ready too.
“DocuSign or zipForm are great for transaction management,” says Madden, noting that more deals are being settled digitally. “I still get a thrill getting an offer quickly signed when timing is critical.”
4. Ensure that you’re analytics enabled
As mentioned by Madden, technology should help streamline the menial and manual tasks that slow down your sales process, and Yoon concurs.
“The time spent backtracking to check client flies, organizing paperwork, and staying on top of our pipeline by following a paper trail or even a spreadsheet takes so much time away from the essential and most rewarding aspects of our business—relationship building and working with clients,” she says.
That’s why it’s vital to include data analytics as you implement modern, automated solutions. The data sourced can bring together insights from across your business—or in Madden’s case, businesses—for meaningful measurement and reporting.
“Cloze efficiently tracks interactions from when I meet a client through to transaction follow-ups,” he says, “but it also helps build my sphere by analyzing clients from my antiques and fine art business. ActivePipe then grabs the contact lists from Cloze, and produces targeted marketing while looping back to Cloze with interaction data.”
5. Be strategic and explore your options
If you have an IT department, a technology partner, or even just a software aficionado on your team, expert feedback can be helpful as you envision solutions for your business. But the best thing you can do is build a plan, take advantage of free trials, and start experimenting.
“Take the time to truly understand what pain points you have in your process, and reflect on how you want to resolve those issues,” says Yoon. “Then trial and explore different platforms until you find one that clicks. Don’t focus on what’s working for others; rather, find the solution that fits your rhythm and process. Spend the time to learn the platform—you’ll gain that initial investment of time back through the gains in your business.”
Madden agrees. “Don’t be afraid to dive into new technology,” he says, “because the payoff is worth it.”