What does the future look like for real estate agents and property managers?
While there's no magic crystal ball to predict exactly what will happen in the next 5 or 10 years, the closest we in the real estate industry can get to is to look into certain factors and trends today that are shaping its future.
So, what will agencies of the future focus on? Is it disruption or diversity, people or profit? We sat down and talked with some of our most loyal and highly experienced customers about how the sector has changed and how it is likely to progress in the future.
The pressure is on for great customer service in real estate
By: Tony Morrison, CEO Harcourts Tasmania and Victoria
Tony Morrison has been involved in the buying and selling of many rent rolls throughout Tasmania and whose offices presently manage around 1600 properties across the region. According to him, the biggest change the real estate industry has undergone in recent years is the level of pressure being put on those at the coalface. This is especially true in property management, “It is very hard to convince the public to pay a reasonable fee to hire a good property manager, as most people do not have a clue how important it is to the protection of your asset to have a really good property manager.”
“Property managers are being asked to do more and more every year and the pressure to maintain fees, let alone put them up, is enormous. The public’s expectations of customer service have also grown tremendously. These days, people expect responses within minutes or they become unhappy with your service."
Morrison suggests that the agility required to move with the demands of the client journey will continue to prove a challenge well into the future for real estate agencies. However, he remains optimistic about the opportunities that abound with the help of today's automated communications. An ability to innovate while also adapting quickly to new technologies is likely to play an important part in distinguishing between the agencies that flourish in the future and those that fail.
A marketplace of property services
By: Nathan Sahyoun, Principal at Belle Property Parramatta
Having been in real estate for just over 14 years, Sahyoun says the fact the industry relies quite heavily on traditional methods of operation is concern enough. “It’s my belief that we can grow and flourish with the use of technology, but [this] must be done so along with great people. The industry has so much experience and knowledge that can’t be replicated through tech.”
Sahyoun believes those who create adjacent income streams through better customer experience are those who will fare best in the future, as will those with the ability to think beyond being ‘rent collectors’ and instead offer clients a marketplace of property services.
Property technology cannot replace personal service
By: John Percudani, Principal at Realmark, WA
John Percudani will agree that adapting to new technologies is indeed important to remain competitive, but he believes that it should not be the end all and be all for real estate agencies of the future. “Technology is great when used as it should be in the right context; however, in my opinion, it cannot replace personal service and results.”
Percudani, whose real estate journey began in the commercial marketing and subdivision space, but has since evolved into the commercial, residential, property management and strata real estate, says when he started out in the industry in 1998, attracting a strong client base was based on higher competency and knowledge.
At that time there was also a strong command and control-style relationship, where the client was controlled by the data and information available. Now, a dramatic change in the industry means clients are empowered with access to information and armed to make informed decisions on their property aspirations.
“This essentially allows the agents within the industry to focus on relationships and communicate with clients identifying their needs and preferences, and offer solutions that are customised to them.”
Percudani says there is no doubt disruptors within the market will challenge the viability of the traditional real estate business model; however, service skills will always be highly valued. In the end, it's all about providing great customer experiences.
Thinking beyond renting and selling properties
By: Adrian Butera, Managing Director at Compton Green, VIC
For Adrian Butera, the opportunity for success in the future for real estate agnecies lies with businesses that are able to look outside their core offering.
He argues that for many years the real estate and property management sectors appear to have adopted a tunnel vision approach and have really only focused on renting and selling property.
“We’ve got great processes and great people, what else can those people do for us, what else can we do as a business? [I think in the future] we will think more broadly and we’ll start to operate more broadly.”
Focus on training and reinvestment
By: Andrew Taplin, Managing Director at Taplin Group, SA
Taplin, whose real estate career began in 1985 when he was named an assistant property manager at the group’s Glenelg office, says while the real estate industry as a whole has always been great at innovation, the speed of change is greater now than it’s ever been.
He sees controlling costs while achieving advancements and reinvesting in the business are likely to prove the largest hurdles those in the sector will face in the future.
“Our industry is rewarding, but is hard work. Companies will need to be more adaptive than ever before to remain competitive. There needs to be a continued focus on reinvestment and training with a clear longer-term strategy.
“Companies that have a sound and solid reputation, and can deliver results rather than talk about them, I believe more so will continue to succeed in the current business environment.”
What we learned
Agency leaders agree that the disruption brought upon by new technologies and the increasing customer demand for excellent services are changing the environment in which property managers and real estate agents operate in. Being observant of the changes in the industry and how they affect your work and business can help greatly in planning for the future. In an industry that is constantly changing – and rapidly at that – it is important to be proactive at any challenges and opportunities that may arise.