Are you feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending stream of new tech jargon and products? How about deciding which tech products are worth implementing in 2022 and which are shiny objects that will waste your time and your money? Here’s how to sort through the noise and find the right tech tools for your 2022 tech toolbox.
Client relationship management systems (CRMs)
If you’re not using a CRM to track your lead generation, manage your contacts, and create marketing campaigns, this is the most important step you can take to be successful in 2022.
Which CRM is right for you?
Craig Grant, the CEO and founder of the Real Estate Technology Institute, created a tool called the CRM Generator. After extensive interviews with the industry’s major CRM providers, Grant created a quick quiz that identifies the top two or three CRMs best suited for your business. The cost is only 99 cents.
Once you take the quiz and receive your personalized results, evaluate each option using these four criteria:
- Is the CRM clear and easy for you to use? If not, the CRM will become a support nightmare.
- Does it integrate with all the contact and task management tools you use currently?
- Does it offer email as well as other automated marketing systems?
- Does the CRM company offer live customer support by both phone and chat?
If your top choice offers a 30-day free trial, sign up and do a test drive before permanently committing.
Never miss a lead with a CRM chatbot
In an exciting development, CRM companies have begun offering chatbot solutions in conjunction with their basic CRM product.
AI-based chatbot technology responds to incoming leads 24-7, engages, and then nourishes your leads until they’re ready to talk to you. These systems also immediately notify you when a lead comes in.
The Close has identified their top three real estate chatbots for 2022 as being Freshdesk Messaging (doesn’t integrate with your CRM), Structurely ($179-$499 per month) and Realty Chatbot ($795 to $995 per month).
At least two companies are now offering cost effective AI chatbots tied to their CRM products in 2022.
- LionDesk allows you to add a chatbot to your current CRM and is reasonably priced ($42.00 per month for the pro version).
- Wise Agent (a BrokerageUP client) has just released a chatbot feature that integrates directly with their CRM avoiding the hassle of working with third-party CRM providers.
All these tools allow you to “never miss a lead.” This is especially important online where 50 percent of all buyer leads continue to go unanswered.
While the iBuyer model has been around for several years, commercials for these services seem to be everywhere. Consequently, you must be prepared to answer the question, “What is an iBuyer?”
According to OpenDoor:
An iBuyer is a company that uses technology to make an offer on your home instantly. How iBuyers operate varies, but the underlying idea is that a company estimates the value of your home and makes an offer. If you accept, they take on the burden of owning, marketing, and reselling the home.
Even with all the advertising and press about the iBuyer model, the NAR 2021 Profile of Buyers and Sellers reports these sales accounted for less than 1 percent of all transactions. According to a recent Inman report, Opendoor, Zillow Offers (before its demise), Offerpad and RedfinNow, iBuyers accounted for only 1.9 percent of all U.S. home sales in the third quarter.
In 2021, many tech savvy agents incorporated “instant offers” into their listing presentations. While some of these offers flow through the agent’s brokerage, a better alternative is to visit one or more iBuyer sites to discover how much they’re willing to offer on the seller’s property. You can then compare these offers with your CMA and how much the seller will be likely to net if they list with you.
Here’s an example of an iBuyer offer from Opendoor that was posted on one of my neighbor’s properties on Realtor.com:
The challenge with this approach is doing an apples-to-apples comparison with each of the iBuyer models vs. selling on the open market.
Compare the various iBuyer models side-by-side
Lane Hornung, the CEO and Founder of Boulder-based 8Z real estate, has created a site called Zavvie. Zavvie has put together the actual cost of each iBuyer model as compared to selling on the open market. This is an incredibly powerful tool for listing appointments since sellers can clearly see how much each model costs. Because Zavvie is a third-party provider, it also has greater credibility.
Power buyers: Solving the contingent sale problem
According to the 2021 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 51 percent of all buyers were living in a house they owned when they transacted in 2021. What keeps many owners from listing is they must sell their existing home before they can close on their next home.
Power buyers are now eliminating the need for a contingent sale. Companies such as FlyHomes, HomeLight, Homeward, Knock, Opendoor, Orchard and Ribbon enable sellers to purchase, often times with an “all cash” offer prior to selling their existing property.
These companies either purchase the seller’s existing home, purchase their next home and then sell it to them once they sell their current home, or provide a mortgage solution that allows them to pay all cash. Most are eager to work with agents and some even allow you to earn a full commission.
Here’s how to implement the “power buyer” model in your business:
- Search online to determine which companies are active in your market area.
- Use the following ad for both print, digital and social media marketing:
Ready to buy but need to sell your current home first?
Contact Sally Agent at 800-555-1212 to learn how you can buy now before selling your current home.
In addition to their iBuyer program, Zavvie recently launched a similar service for power buyers. This tool compares the type of services each power buyer provides along with a side-by-side comparison of the costs.
(Please note that Zavvie is only available to brokerages and agent teams. If your company or team doesn’t offer this tool, ask your broker or team leader to consider implementing Zavvie in 2022).
Hornung coined the term “homeownership accelerators” to describe the two major ways renters can become a homeowner more quickly: power buyer rent-to-own programs and down payment assistance programs.
Power buyer rent-to own programs
While the Federal Home Bank (FHLB) offers two different lease-to-own programs that provide 4-1 matching grants based upon how much the consumer can save in either a 10 month or 2-3 year period, there is a whole new category of power buyer rent-to-own programs that you will want to know about for 2022.
Rent your dream home while we help you save for a down payment. You can buy the home from us whenever you’re ready or walk away and cash out your savings.
Down payment assistance (DPA)
The most important reason for getting onboard with how down payment assistance programs work is that Zillow just announced that their 36 million unique monthly visitors will now see all the DPA programs available on every one of Zillow’s active listings that qualify for at least one program.
Zillow has partnered with Down Payment Resource (DPR) to provide this service. DPR aggregates the all the down payment assistance programs available for over 140 million properties in the U.S.
But here’s what’s really amazing: The average amount of down payment assistance that DPR provided to buyers in 2021 was $17,000!
If you want to skyrocket your lead conversion and the number of referrals you receive, start visiting the DPR site regularly to see how much DPA is available for both your buyers AND your sellers, even if they’re property is not currently on the market.
The holy grail of agent marketing and lead generation
Most agents are unfamiliar with “proptech.” According to Wikipedia, proptech is the application of information technology and platform economics to real estate.
In 2022 proptech applications will continue to explode. Companies like Lone Wolf Technologies, Elm Street Technologies and Constellation Real Estate Group have been rapidly acquiring a variety of companies over the last 12-24 months in order to provide agents with all the tools and services they need to conduct their business in one place.
One tool that really caught my eye was Elm Street Technologies’ Social Pro program. Social Pro creates, manages and syndicates your social media content automatically. This includes listing updates, market reports and super hyper-local content. Any syndicated content they produce links back to your website, not a third-party site.
The most innovative aspect of Social Pro takes your MLS listing data and then automatically creates a blog post as well as social media posts using that data. This allows your listing content to appear online, often before the listing even appears on any of the portals.
The bottom line for 2022
When it comes to your tech toolbox for 2022, being able to attract, convert and then track your client leads is critical. By the same token, helping consumers eliminate the contingent sale problem with a power buyer program and/or obtain an average of $17,000 in down payment assistance if they qualify, will result in more leads and referrals in 2022 for your business than ever before. Take advantage of it!
Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP 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.