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Looking toward the future is a huge part of any real estate agent’s job but just what that means can be a challenge to figure out. Should you be keeping your eye on blockchain and cryptocurrency? Fine-tuning your virtual sales? Or backing down on technology and prioritizing face-to-face contact?
While it can be difficult to predict just where the industry will go, a number of trends have clearly emerged in the pandemic and post-pandemic aftermath as the industry adapts to an uncertain but rapidly-advancing future.
“A lot of that innovation is already taking hold,” Clelia Peters, Inman’s editor at large, said at a session titled “Real Estate Trends to Bet One” at Inman Connect Las Vegas. “Things are truly changing in the industry. They’ve changed a lot in the last five years and they’re going to change a lot more in the next five years.”
Here are some of the trends you can expect to see in 2022 and beyond.
Automation and digitalization
If you haven’t noticed that real estate is being automated, you haven’t been paying attention. The industry may have been slow to catch up compared to other fields but clients now expect to see everything from mortgage applications to contract signing to take place entirely online. It is no longer a “perk” that agents can offer clients but a necessity for every part of the homebuying process.
“Whether it’s things that bring more transparency to the process so people have more clarity around what’s going on or tools that support them in bundling these transactions together so that they have one place where they’re managing the whole thing or even simple things like notarizing, clients expect the process to be fast-tracked and [automated],” Peters said.
Bundling, or what is otherwise known as becoming a one-stop shop for multiple parts of the homebuying process, is increasingly necessary for brokerages that want to stay on top of the future. Whether that means partnering with a lender or notary or making it possible for clients to apply for mortgages while they’re still in the home, many homebuyers increasingly expect the homebuying process to start with you and continue seamlessly forward.
“Traditional brokerages have been doing that for decades but we’re increasingly seeing new companies come on the scene and bring things together to create consumer benefits in the form of bundle packages,” Homeward’s Tim Heyl told the audience.
You’ve heard it before but, after the pandemic has kept everyone online for months, many clients are increasingly looking to build meaningful — and that often means face-to-face — connections.
While going offline and giving your clients a call (or even an in-person visit!) can seem like the opposite of where the future is headed, it is actually what will make you stand out as an agent who is not simply looking to make money but truly cares about clients.
And that goes both ways as brokerages also need to care for and foster relationships with their agents.
“The agent is really the customer of the brokerage,” Peters said. “While the agent should be providing to the buyers and sellers, the brokerage should be providing to the agent. That is a really meaningful shift in mindset.”
Whether in 2001 or 2021, one of the biggest benefits that an agent offers is the service — caring about your clients and treating them like a valued guest. That is both a trend (isolation due to COVID-19 has made many crave that kind of deeper connection) and something that customers have wanted since time immemorial.
Take the time to truly look our for your clients and you will be on top of anything that 2022 brings.
“We are real luxury providers,” Peters said. “That’s going to be like concierge, like staying at the Waldorf or the Four Seasons. We want to bring that experience of things being done for you and your money goes toward that type of service.”