The role of the Realtor in the 21st century is drastically changing. Homebuyers are savvier than ever with the advancements in online housing searches. The MLS data Realtors try to protect is littered all over the Internet. Access to the MLS is no longer a big advantage to being a Realtor, and consumers often know more about what is on the market than the Realtor does.

This presents a major problem for Realtors going forward: If housing data ceases to be one of the primary reasons to hire a Realtor, Realtors must focus on providing excellent service and maintaining close relationships with all of his or her clients.

Drawing from this point, focusing on building lasting relationships with clients leads me to believe this will be the true value add for Realtors to consumers in the 21st century.

Even with the abundance of information on the Internet about a particular house or area, people still call their Realtor first to find out where the best schools are, who the best painter is, or even how to become a member at the local country club. These are the areas Realtors need to become experts in. Branding yourself as a community expert provides you the competitive advantage to increase success.

To me the answer is clear. Having grown up in the real estate business, I realized that the most successful Realtors are the ones with the most ties to the community. Becoming well-networked within the community is something the Internet will never be able to replace. It is human interaction that gains trust and builds relationships, not your email inbox. This all translates into more referrals and more success.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself where you get most of your quality leads: the Internet or word of mouth? From my experience asking more than 500 Realtors at the recent NAR convention, an overwhelming majority stated that most of their business comes from word of mouth or referrals, not the Internet.

To ensure future success on building great relationships, here are three things you can do now:

Go mobile
The good news is that the proliferation of smartphone adoption across all demographics is enabling Realtors to stay more connected than ever to their clients. Essentially allowing Realtors to push information at any time directly into the palm of their clients’ hands. Utilizing this technology will become a major driving force behind success in real estate in the upcoming years. I recommend that you get your own mobile app to put in the hands of your clients.

Get involved with the community
Community involvement is one the best ways to show people around you that you care about where you live. If you have kids, you should get involved with the school. From my experience, my mom, who is a Realtor, has been able to close countless deals through relationships formed through my high school.

Build a brand around your local knowledge
Living a in particular place for an extended period of time gives you the time to learn the ins and out of the community. A deep understanding of whom to call in case of a plumbing disaster or what restaurants are the best in town is one way to provide tremendous value to your clients. Even with the advent of the Internet, people still love to call people they know for a recommendation.

Will Caldwell is the CEO and co-founder at Rivolix, a mobile real estate tech company that helps Realtors generate more word-of-mouth leads. He is a passionate entrepreneur and recent college graduate living in San Diego.

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