Tech Trends: Your Online Presence, Easy Videos & More
Like any industry, the real estate market relies on technology to work more efficiently and creatively. From videos to iPhone apps and everything in between, real estate agents are turning to the latest and greatest technology gadgets and applications.
A number of factors influence the real estate community’s need to be using all types of technology, according to Amy Chorew, speaker, trainer, author and owner of Techbyte, a social media guide for real estate professionals.
First, consumers buying and selling homes do lots of research online. As a result, real estate agents need to be found easily online through their blog postings, content they provide about their communities and social media presence.
"If you're not online where the consumer is, your reputation is being formed without you online," Chorew says. "REALTORS® must have an online presence."
Since agents tend to be generalists, Chorew says it’s essential to focus on your strengths – whether it's a demographic such as 55+, first-time home buyers or a geographic area of your city. If the client is a first-time home buyer, for example, this younger demographic might be found on Trulio, Zillow, blogs or through videos about the community.
The following presents a snapshot of technology trends in the real estate industry:
Blogs – Targeted blogs are an amazing way to be found by consumers, according to Chorew. These can feature photos, video and the written word. Content could cover a more general angle about a city or a specific community. Maura Neill, ABR, CRS, for example, is an Atlanta-based buyer specialist and Women's Council member with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, who started Atlanta: 365 Days, 365 Things to Do, an online hyper-local resource for all things Atlanta.
Mobile – Smartphones have become consumers' computer on-the-go for keeping up with email, sending documents and researching online. As a result, websites must be maximized for mobile browsing. Chorew says there are tens of thousands of applications (apps) to make life easier as a REALTOR®. Some of the popular ones scan documents, show videos and serve as a document signing for contracts. Tablets, iPads and other contenders are popular as well.
Videos – This form of technology is a great way to communicate to potential home buyers and others interested in the real estate market.
There are several options for your video offerings:
- Instructional: This interview-style video can help people maneuver financial issues or other important parts of the real estate process.
- Community & lifestyle: This type of video is presented in a casual style to share information about a community, its unique qualities and what makes it special for residents.
- Home video: Unlike the home videos of yesteryear, this style of home video highlights houses that are for sale. "This really involves more of the senses," says Chorew. "It's an opportunity for the agent to shine and share what really makes the home special. It creates that engagement that’s important in building a relationship."
Margret Roberts, ABR, PMN, a broker associate with RE/MAX First in Rochester, NY, finds the technology learning curve is a littler steeper as she gets older. But she doesn't let her mid-50s mindset keep her from using technology as part of her 29-year career.
"Technology has changed the way we do business with clients," Roberts says. "The paperwork part of transactions is so much easier. A lot of time is saved that was usually time in the car driving back and forth just for a signature."
Roberts tried making videos of properties using a Flip video camera, but didn't like the outcome. She did find another creative use by making client testimonial videos after they close or a transaction is accepted.
"I do mostly repeat and referral business because of what I offer in Internet marketing," Roberts says. "Having the property available on as many Internet sites as possible is essential."
Dustin Luther, a technology trainer and founder of 4Realz Strategies, believes the tech trends for real estate focus on tools that let agents connect with others in their sphere. These can be Facebook, Twitter or even video streaming.
"The challenge is not the tools themselves, but the initial intimidation of the tool," Luther says. "Sometimes agents give up before they understand the tool. They end up fighting the tool rather than using it in a creative way."
The bottom line is this, according to Chorew: Face-to-face is the way that agents get properties listed and sold, but social networks enhance it and engage it.
Vicki Powers is a Houston-based freelance writer.
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