Coming to grips with the rapidly increasing impact of the virtual world on the purchase and sale of residential properties is something many of us would rather not do. After all, the vast majority of home sales still occur by virtue of good old-fashioned legwork. Even so, an ever-increasing number of home transactions are occurring as a result of technological innovations.
As a former Realtor, both as a broker and agent, I understand how difficult change is within this industry. I still remember the problems of switching from books to computers. However, consumer behavior during the past few years tells us that we really don’t have a choice: three of every 10 online consumers plan to buy a home within the next two years, and more than half of those buyers are starting their search online. These consumers assume that their agents are using the latest technology to help them find homes faster and easier. Moreover, most real estate service providers, such as title, escrow and insurance companies, are insisting that all agents become more technologically savvy. Selecting the right technology partner can literally mean the difference between forging ahead or falling behind.
Laying The Foundation
Of the dozens of companies now vying for your technology business, keep this question in mind: Which solution will have the greatest impact on your business? When shopping around, consider the following:
In the brave new e-commerce world there are many companies that lack the advantage of combined experience in real estate and technology. To compensate, some have acquired various gizmos that, although initially distinctive, fail to offer even short-term benefits should your business needs change. Look for an e-partner with a track record of innovation and an unblemished reputation for technical know-how.
Building the first version of any technology is an expensive and time-consuming task. The bigger job is to have the financial stamina and commitment to stay the course, year after year, to evolve and enhance the basic platform and the new features demanded by the marketplace.
When it comes to service companies, today’s consumers increasingly expect to enter into professional relationships characterized by immediate and long-term assistance, sustained trust and reliability. In other words, the sales transaction is viewed as just the beginning of a continued association. If your business is to grow, you’ll need the technological resources to manage an ongoing high volume of client and office needs on every level. Make sure your technology partner offers or supports software solutions that touch every aspect of the transaction
If a technology partner won’t let you customize your software to meet your specific business needs, they’re probably not as interested in your long-term success as they’d like you to believe. Cookie cutter solutions don’t work in real estate, so make sure your technology partner offers an “open platform” that will grow and change with your business needs.
The ability to tap instantly into pertinent data will enable agents to shorten the transaction process and better respond to a wider spectrum of general client needs and preferences. Select a topnotch technology partner that will allow your agents to evaluate a client’s past purchases in the context of their present financial resources, family needs and neighborhood expectations. The right technology will enhance your professional value and strengthen the client-Realtor relationship.
To keep up with fleeting market trends, many e-commerce competitors employ all sorts of tactics; from seemingly endless promotions to explosive and haphazard growth. Although these strategies may allow some of their products/services to capture market share, they are more likely to create an organizational “patchwork quilt” which must continually cope with financial woes, uneven quality and erratic distribution of services.
The leading companies will create and develop flexible technology solutions based upon the needs of the industry. This approach reflects a solid commitment to long-term development cycles and disciplined growth. If you choose a partner with this outlook, you’ll select one with the aim of actively responding to your professional requirements.
Your client’s needs, the communities you serve, market circumstances, and resources will determine your professional priorities. The right technology partner can provide competitively advantageous features that will expand opportunities, increase revenues and save both time and cost for you and your customer.
Keep An Eye On Future Outcomes
As the impact of technology on the real estate market becomes even larger, it will soon be as impractical to try to do business without a sophisticated technology partner as it would be without a telephone.
Purchasing a home is the costliest and most complex personal transaction most individuals will ever encounter. Nonetheless, when you choose the right technology partner, you’ll speed the process, simplify the transaction and increase your value across the board to both buyers and sellers. When all is said and done, don’t overlook the most important consideration of all: make sure you choose a technology solution that allows you the flexibility to maintain your unique professional personality and value to your customers. Computerization is a hollow victory without customization.
Now is the time to begin investigating and evaluating the best technology match for your future business strategy. The good news is that there is still time to make a responsible choice…but you must choose carefully and wisely to ensure that the decision you make keeps your future business on a solid foundation.