Technology and real estateReal Estate Thursday, October 15th, 2015
Real estate brokerage is a business serviced by individuals who are usually older than their clients. A recent NAR survey found that only about 3 percent of real estate agents were under 30, and 81 percent were older than 45, with 25 percent over 65. Since we know that older people have less familiarity and comfort with new technologies, the disparity between client and broker is an issue. Brokers need to embrace technology, while maintaining what has always been considered a “people” business.
Let’s delve a little further and look at both ends of the spectrum. The tech-savvy buyers, many of them members of the millennial generation, are searching for homes on their mobile phones. They are information junkies, and often do the job of brokers by researching comparable sales, and gathering other pertinent information. They no longer require brokers to do the hunting, or to compare and contrast opportunities. Notably, many are suspicious of advertising, turning to blogs and reviews on social media sites, for support. Texting is the preferred form of communication.
How does the real estate broker adjust to these changes? He is no longer the only source of information. What is the new role he must play to be effective? The informed broker is now an ally of a more informed client. His new role is as guide, counselor, trusted professional, and he needs to use the new tools to communicate. Text, blog, go mobile, and run, do not walk, into a brave new world.
There are pluses for the broker that may make the transitions less painful. Going mobile means no longer being tethered to an office. It also means clients expect their documents wherever the broker may be, so mobile fax apps are the new normal.
It means going paperless in a business where paper was king. The newest real estate novelties are cloud files, upon which a client’s entire file may be stored. No more cartons, no more books, just a little zip … this is a relief for all of us.
Older agents need to get up to speed, but their “people” skills may still make the difference. Buying a home is an emotional decision, and many people still like to have their hands held as they fork over their life savings. Email, texting, blogs and social media may open doors, but we still seek human assurances, and brokers who have successfully concluded many transactions just have the ability to give confidence to a skeptical buyer.
It’s undeniable. There’s no going back. Wherever you go, people are using their mobile devices to shop, communicate, gather information and make choices. Perhaps younger people will be attracted to the new real estate business, as it is now fast-tracked. In a business that was always about personal service, we need a new paradigm, one that treats technology as a great tool to gather and transmit information, but leaves the important job of decision-making as the human imperative. Let’s remember that no matter how handy those tools are, they cannot hold your hand.
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