Technology has come a long way from the first set of bulky computers in local real estate offices. With technological advancements occurring rapidly, real estate agencies across the country are developing new ways to streamline services and keep up with emerging trends.
According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), every Australian spends an average of 10 hours online per week, with younger people spending up to 18+ hours a week on the net. The continued rise of the internet as a primary source of information and advertising has provided extensive opportunities for those in the real estate industry to expand in the online sphere.
So, what are the biggest advantages of new technologies for real estate agencies?
1. New ways to reach customers
Gone are the days of only reaching potential buyers or tenants via newspapers, magazines and word of mouth. A study conducted in 2015 by realestate.com.au found that 78% of consumers were accessing property listings and information online using mobile devices and laptops. Technology has provided myriad new opportunities for agencies to market services and properties to a broader audience using digital platforms and online listings.
Many companies have chosen to move with consumers: shifting their focus to list properties on their own websites and real estate portals, utilising social media platforms in a client-friendly way, and engaging personalised targeted marketing techniques. Mobile content and marketing is one of the biggest targets for agencies, with around 80% of Australians consuming information using devices that fit in their pockets. Optimising websites and delivering advertising that is mobile-friendly can do wonders for a marketing campaign.
2. Integrated internal processes
Real estate is a paper-heavy industry. For most businesses, electronic document management systems are either already in place or in the process of being completed. Agents are saving extensive amounts of time by managing their documents using digitised systems. There are mass-market document-sharing and digital collaboration tools like Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as specialised document management software for the real estate industry like Rockend’s fileSMART.
Financial transactions are also made easy with cloud-based accounting software and online banking tools – all information is stored and can be shared securely, software updates automatically and business accounting costs are drastically lowered. In an industry like real estate, with its unique requirements, software company Rockend has made specialist accounting software for a long time, with REST Professional. More recently, it has moved into the cloud with PropertyTree.
Processes surrounding contact databases and recording or accessing client information have also been remodelled. Agents can now capture contact details of potential clients using smartphones, set up regular automated messages advising clients of new properties on the market, and send clients a text when their lease application or price offer has been processed.
3. Increase in positive communication
The real estate industry revolves around people, and innovations in technology have created opportunities for greater communication between agencies and clients. Where in the past agents may have spent time playing phone tag with potential clients or having face-to-face meetings, many now use email or online contact forms as their first port of call and primary form of communication. In turn, clients are finding it easier to access information about listings, specific offices and contact details for particular agents.
Online listings have also helped streamline the communication process. If a listing is effectively detailed and contains great imagery, potential buyers won’t need to contact agents with initial questions about the property – their first contact will likely be to arrange a viewing. Clients can do their own research – from viewing the original listing to looking at a satellite view on Google Maps, to searching for past sale or rental prices of the property. Agents have an opportunity to steer clients in the right direction, use their insider knowledge of the local market and specific property to pass on further information, and close the sale.
4. Innovation in information exchange
Not only do new technology and digital advancements mean that agencies can remain in close contact easier with clients, it also means that they can present information to potential clients in new ways. Digital consumers are leaning towards video content, with a 2015 Nielsen report stating that at least 55% of all Australians – and around 73% of 16- to 24-year-olds – are choosing to view online video content over regular broadcast television.
Embracing and trialling new technologies can give agencies an advantage over competitors and help listings stand out to clients. Video content, like visual walk-throughs of properties, can be used effectively on property listings, adding an extra element to the portfolio. Video advertising is also on the rise, particularly on social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook, where consumers are much more likely to hit play.
Technology has revolutionised the way agencies and their clients can operate and communicate. Businesses that enjoy embracing new technologies and incorporating different processes into their workflows have the chance to impress customers whilst remaining a step ahead of competition.