Are You in Jeopardy of Being Replaced? Tech Trends Every REALTOR® Should Embrace in 2017

Have you ever worried, “We are being replaced” as you examine the technological changes and advances of each new year. Yes, times are changing. Interestingly, that has not eliminated the need for expert help. The National Association of REALTOR® (NAR) thirty-fifth edition of the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey found that now eighty-seven percent of buyers use agents compared to only eighty-one percent in 1981. You read that right. So agents were actually used less before the internet even came on the scene then they are now.

We can now all collectively sigh in relief. But I can understand why - all this "newfangled" technology and overabundance of online information can be confusing.  This is especially true for those that have full-time jobs outside of real estate, who do not have time to scour these resources and learn a new industry.

But that does not mean complacency should reign. We must remain the experts in all things real estate and continue to offer irreplaceable value, such as negotiation skills, beyond the basics available online. That includes leveraging tech trends that buyers and sellers are insisting upon having. Niraj Ranjan Rout, the co-founder and CEO over at the powerful Google/Gmail app Hiverr shared, “Aside from internalizing technology on an everyday basis to run your real-estate business such as implementing marketing automation, using a project management tool, taking advantage of tech gadgets etc, there are some very huge tech trends that literally can change everything, as we know it”.

Here are a few such trends Niraj suggested we get up to speed on using to be irreplaceable:

Virtual reality 

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The gaming industry has eased most consumers into enjoying and expecting virtual reality (VR) experiences that feature three-dimensional (3D) videos. For instance, it is underheard of for my household to go see an action/adventure movie like Star Trek without 3D and IMAX. VR has seeped into our expectations and that does not turn off when the time to house hunt arises.  And with half of all homebuyers being under 36 (i.e. Millennials), it is feasible that this trend will be a mainstay in 2017.

“VR is most certainly one of the most exciting and course-altering tech trends right around the corner for real estate. Real estate firms are increasingly experimenting with VR headsets like Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, etc.,” said Niraj. To this point, Sotheby’s in partnership with Matterport recently introduced 3D and VR Tours on "Distance can present a challenge when looking to buy a home and virtual reality has provided a provocative solution. This technology is allowing buyers to purchase homes without having to physically travel to view them, which is especially relevant to the global clientele we serve," said John Passerini, global vice president, interactive marketing at Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC.

Niraj continued, “Once VR grows out of its infancy, it is going to completely change your customer experience. Your prospects can have a fully immersed experience of their future homes, experiment with different home styling options virtually before taking a call, examine floor plans and get a full 360-degree view of the house”. Imagine the day when, “A prospect can take a slow walk around in the garden of the house, experience the wine cellar, stretch their arms to see if the kitchen is spacious enough and do a whole lot more… These virtual tours will enhance the whole marketing experience,” affirmed Niraj.

Big data

Many of us overshare online. You may have been annoyed by seeing a post about a person’s lunch dish but all that data can actually have some utility in your business. Well, maybe not exactly a dinner plate but many of the things shared may direct you to who is buying and selling.

How so? “Big data. It is the key to successful digital marketing and tailored advertising to your potential leads. It allows you to access detailed information about a customer and analyze their past behaviors. Even simple factors such as the life stage of the prospect, their employment status, marital status, number of kids, demographics etc. can all be included to generate a list of rich targets to whom you have the information to provide rich customer experience,” stated Niraj.

There are various ways to retrieve such data but the flavor of the month is Facebook Ads. With over one billion people daily on Facebook sharing bits and pieces about their lives, this is a gold-mine of data for real estate professionals to actually connect with people when they are gearing up for a move. In fact, Facebook allows us to target consumers by behaviors such as “Likely to Move” and “For Sale By Owner”. Instead of haphazardly mailing postcards to people that may not be in the market to buy or sell, you can use big data to directly find your ideal client. The best part of using big data from Facebook Ads is that the ads can be as little as $1-$5 per day. Who knows if this price point will stay so low but make it a point to use it while it is so budget-friendly.

Home technology

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If you have ever caught a rerun of “The Jetsons” cartoon, then you have likely fawned over the thought of your own homing being smart or fully automated with useful technology. Niraj added, “Technology, which was previously reserved for only luxury condos, is now available abundantly to the mass market. For example, smart lighting, automated door locks, etc. As more of these smart home products and features make themselves available to the mass market, predictably an increasing number of people will demand homes that can accommodate or already are accommodating them… that can improve energy efficiency, the quality of their lives, functionality and more.”

Are you ready instead of clueless? Are you a real estate pro well versed in what is currently available and what is on the horizon? Do you know the price points and the best local vendors? Do you know what smart home upgrades can help your seller’s home listing sell faster?

Wrapping up

Listen up REALTOR® friends.  Niraj poignantly shared, “Dismissing technology as some overrated unnecessary luxury can be a not-so-smart thing to do and so is being a late adopter of new tech trends”. Trends are changing but often these changes enhance our ability to market to and connect with prospects. Start now to keep your business in tune with what buyers and sellers want, making yourself irreplaceable.

Sound off - what trends do you need to look into more and even find professional development classes? Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win, to transform their real estate sales game plan. Here's to your success!
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