The changing face of Real Estate industry in the digital era

Blockchain, AI and Privacy amongst many digital factors affecting the industry



Whether you are new to real estate or have been around for decades, you have probably noticed that real estate tends to lag behind other industries when it comes to technology.


The internet of things, digital marketing, CRM, online reputation management and digital communication, in general, are all areas there can be serious skills gaps for real estate agents. As the digital world continues to expand into everything from online mortgages to smart homes, real estate agents have to set their sights on keeping up.


REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


People are review obsessed making online reputation management very important for agents. According to Zillow, 61% of millennials use online research as their primary real estate resource. Therefore, maintaining an excellent reputation online has become part of your job.


Reviews are a modern-day version of referrals, with 72 percent of consumers looking to reviews as a trusted source. In fact, they view reviews in much the same way they would take a personal recommendation.


Despite the importance of online reviews, only 36 percent of brokers include reviews as a feature on their websites. However, reviews are a must on agent sites. Reviews kill two birds with one stone: You can build your online reputation which in turn improves SEO. Because reviews are localized, they positively affect your local search rankings.



Some agents are uncomfortable with the idea of reviews as they are public. It can be a window into the negatives as well. However, reviews and comments allow you to look for pain points and complaints. When you have negative comments, you have a chance to learn from your mistakes and make improvements. Moreover, you are also able to redeem yourself publicly with client-centric answers that show you care.


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) AND LIVE CHAT


Frank Magliocco, a partner at PwC Canada told the CBC he feels Canadian real estate seems to lag when it comes to technology. However, he foresees that as technology in the industry becomes more mainstream, the country will start to be more open to embracing it. The expectations of clients will play a major role in getting real estate agents and brokers up to speed.



In the same article, Stephen Jagger, the co-founder of IMRE says clients have an expectation that technology will be used in their real estate transactions. IMRE’s chatbot is designed to answer basic questions from prospects 24/7. Acting as a virtual assistant, the system depends on machine learning. It can answer questions about things such as price, school districts and the basics about the listing such as how many bedrooms or bathrooms.


Although this might seem disturbing, it will never replace the human contact and subjectivity of the agent. Instead, AI is designed to provide timely responses based on the clients’ needs so the agent can focus on the higher-level tasks making one on one time for their clients. Adding some form of a chatbot or live chat technology to your website and social pages allows you to make timely contact to build new leads. “We understand the changing behavior of consumers and the need for immediate information, which is why OnlyWith.ca utilizes a form of Live Chat technology on our website to ensure we provide answers to a prospective client as questions arise. I don’t think the human interaction can ever be replaced, especially not in this type of industry, but I strongly believe that as the online research capabilities and communication methods evolve offering a wider selection of preferred methods, industry players must adapt to remain competitive,” notes Jay Frenkel, Agent Relations Manager at OnlyWith.ca


PRIVACY CONCERNS IN REAL ESTATE


Privacy is a big issue that is hard for real estate agents and brokers to get around. The nature of the information shared during transactions as well as that collected for lead generation is highly sensitive. You want to ensure you are doing everything in your power to let clients know the information exchanged is safe. At the same time, you want to ensure you are sharing information with your clients and leads that shows them you understand the biggest and latest tech challenges for today’s buyers and sellers.


But it goes beyond that. For agents, it’s not just about the information you collect for marketing purposes, contacts and listing a home. The purchase of a home today can present potential security issues with the introduction of connected devices, security systems, and smart appliances. There has been very little thought put into what happens when ownership of such home products exchange ownership according to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).


Meanwhile, in the U.S., NAR points out that many homes have multiple service providers for different functions such as thermostats, smart security cameras or even smart lights. With so many vendors, the different contracts, contract dates, and fixtures can begin to get complicated at the time of closing. Currently, there isn’t a process in place for the transfer and reset of passwords for such devices. The CRT is working with manufacturers to improve this process.


UNDERSTANDING BLOCKCHAINS


Blockchains are used to save and transfer blocks of data in a highly secure manner. Many experts are looking at blockchains for cryptocurrencies in real estate. Although there is a place for this technology, Forbes reports that issues such as security, transparency, and efficiency are the things that most people worry about in real estate. If these things can be fine-tuned, then blockchain will have a place in the industry, streamlining and even standardizing online transactions.


Benefits of blockchain in real estate will include:

  • A highly secure way to share information

  • Tamper-resistant shared databases

  • Efficient transaction processes

  • The potential for all parties to be connected on an online platform to make payments

Although blockchain might not be suited for simple purchases like clothes, it does fit what Allen Alishahi, founder of ShelterZoom, considers the “criteria” for blockchain use:

  • Information exchange between multiple parties

  • Privacy

  • Risk of tampering

  • Reduction of administrative costs

  • Transparency

  • Auditability

  • Verification

  • Security

Alishahi feels with the introduction of blockchains, real estate will never be the same again.

The future could see simplified transactions safely and securely made completely online.


CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT


Customer relationship management (CRM) systems provide brokers and real estate agents with a marketing advantage. Reminders and customer management solutions can improve day to day operations. You can proactively manage your customer data in order to remain on top of communication and nurturing.



A good CRM system allows you to:

  • Categorize your clients into logical groups such as past and current clients and new leads

  • Manage your Sphere of Influence

  • Set a contact schedule for effective nurturing

  • Select the form of contact based on client preference whether it is phone, text or email

  • Develop an up to date, accurate contact list

CRM systems also allow you to concentrate on creating more meaningful contact based on your clients’ personal data. From birthdays to holidays and kids to the last home they lived in, you will have a more purposeful relationship based on clients’ lives and needs.


As all things digital evolve, digital applications will become more commonplace in the real estate industry. To stay in the loop and keep up with the latest tech trends, join our team at Only With.ca. We keep our finger on the pulse of innovation and technological change and continuously mentor and train our agents on what’s ahead.

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