Being a Real Estate Agent in 2019
Being a Real Estate Agent in 2018 was a bit different than being one in 2017. This year we saw the rise of Facebook and Instagram ads to combat the rise of Google’s PPC costs. The emerging armies of ISA companies popping up everywhere seemed to push the big portals to follow suit by calling leads, then doing warm phone call handoffs. And, as always, the CRMs are becoming more powerful with automation, analytics and integrations that double efficiency and help prospective clients find the perfect homes.
Now that we have begun to adapt to these new technologies and services, we need to ask ourselves — what impact will these have on current and aspiring homeowners? Is the behavior of Sellers and Buyers evolving with the technology they are being presented with?
Let’s look at some recent examples of technology shifting consumer behavior. Take Amazon as an example. We were all accustomed to getting in our car, driving to the store, picking out what we wanted and taking it home. Now, we go online, throw it in a virtual cart and it shows up a day or two later. The convenience of finding things online, reading reviews, watching videos or getting up close with Virtual Reality is beginning to become what we are accustomed to now. Things are being delivered to our door, subscription boxes and even cars are beginning to be sold online.
What does this have to do with Real Estate? Some companies like Purple Bricks, REX Homes and, HomeBay are getting funded with hundreds of millions of dollars by investors who believe they can take a huge chunk of the market by creating an online solution for Sellers and Buyers. RedFin recently launched their 1% marketing blitz to shake things up, but these companies I mentioned, want to completely eliminate the need to meet with a Licensed Agent.
How can you replace the relationship between a client and their Real Estate Agent? Have you shifted any of your purchase behavior from offline to online? Do you deal with an Insurance Agent or do you purchase a policy online? I am just playing devil’s advocate here because I do understand how these companies and their investors can see an opportunity down the road.
A lot of the services that Real Estate Agents offer, are being pushed off into technology or outsourced to other companies that make calls or do paperwork for you. Our clients are finding us through smartphones and computer screens, and we keep in touch with them through these avenues as well. We are seeing many Real Estate Agents hiring outside companies to make the phone calls for them. ISA, which stands for Inside Sales Assistant, is ironic because we are supposed to be the Real Estate Salesperson. Many Agents are letting a CRM or ChatBot send out pre-scripted follow up on their behalf because those are tasks they don’t enjoy. Sure, qualifying, following up and sifting through a bunch of emails and phone calls isn’t enjoyable to everyone, but, it has traditionally been part of the job. If our job and our functions are moving towards automated systems and outsourced companies, does that mean we are stepping back more to make room for a replacement?
So, I can see both sides, however, at this moment, the large majority of people still want an expert on their side and by their side in the home. Robots cannot yet negotiate and roll with the punches that can come up in a transaction, and self-driving cars are not conducting showings through lockboxes a consumer can access with a smartphone. Is this possible in the future? Some investors and companies have billions invested over the next few years to attempt to make this reality.
So, what can you do? I think Agents absolutely need to utilize the great technology that CRMs linked in with IDX have. Text, Email and VM drop Automation will cut out time for you. Technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve, so use it to it’s fullest — it can help you. But, make sure you brand yourself and make it personal to the human relationship stays and an online Agent does not replace you. Making your own phone calls and personalized communication while building strong relationships will keep the Realtor alive for years to come.
In Conclusion, 2019 is going to be filled with new technology, new lead sources, new solutions for outsourcing our least favorite tasks, and companies continuing their attempts at replacing Real Estate Agents. Though technology cannot replace the human touch, the fact remains, we are handling most people’s biggest investment. The thought we should acknowledge is that we should be investing our time and efforts into building relationships while using technology as much as possible. However, pushing some of our tasks off onto computers, we may well be teaching technology how to replace us.