When I entered the real estate business nearly sixteen years ago, I did so because I recognized a deficiency with agent’s ability to use state-of-the-art technology tools to improve their business. Since that time many, but not all agents have embraced technology as part of their business.
If you are wondering how technology can affect your real estate challenge or puzzle, consider this. In a study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released at the 2008 REALTORS ® Conference & Expo., NAR stated that Buyers used a variety of resources in searching for a home: 90 percent used the Internet ¦ Eighty-seven percent of home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent.
Many Houston agents would be quick to point out that our local board the Houston Association of Realtors provides an outstanding MLS feed for consumers. That is undoubtedly true. However, there are a wide variety of additional web venues, tools and resources to make a wider range of buyers aware of today’s listings. Among those tools are virtual tours, podcasts, social networking sites and blogs to push listings to a much wider range of buyers. It’s interesting to note that our local board, as must boards do, force listing data submitted to belong to them, limiting downrange exposure. Keller Williams has developed its own complementary listing service Keller Williams Listing Service (KWLS) to allow for the much wider distribution of listing information. For my listings I use HAR, KWLS and third and fourth level listing entities to allow feeds to be distributed many dozens of listing data distribution platforms. By using podcasts and these secondary listing venues, my listings consistently rate very high among search engine optimization (SRO) analysis.
Another high tech, but technologically critical is the digital photography. My listings receive a full suite of professional grade, hi resolution, wide angle photographs. In addition, most photos are full HDR (High Dynamic Range) quality. HDR photos have the highest color quality and exposure balance. The internet distribution effectiveness is absolutely reliant on the ability to deliver attractive images of properties of interest.
Buyers benefit from technology with the delivery of nearly real-time listing information. My MLS based systems (I use three or more) scrub listing information daily and automatically deliver listings and updates via email to buyers within 24 hours of changes. Using this approach, many buyers are better informed concerning their area of interest than the agents that represent them.
The effective use of technology does not end there. Differences can be subtle but important. Consider that I use Supra electronic lock boxes. These boxes track every digital key that opens them, maintaining a log of every visitor for safety and security. Some agents use combo mechanical lock boxes. I consider combo boxes a hazard since there is no control over who has the combination, when the boxes are opened or by whom. Using Centralized Showings as my appointment booking company insures online logging of all appointments and verifies agent credentials. A digital log is maintained for all appointments, showing feedback and provides listing update announcement tools. Some agents simply take the appointment by phone and give combo unlock codes but there is little security, little feedback, little follow-up in that process.
That certainly is not the limit of technology use in real estate. My real estate website, smart phone, sign rider information and lead capture systems, automated announcement and email systems, and electronically generated forms are a few more important components.