There are many things that impact on the real estate industry; the economy, pop culture, interest rates etc. Few things, however, have had the enormous impact that technology has had. Everything from the way a property is marketed, listed, and shown, to the way it is sold and closed, have been forever changed and continue to evolve as new technologies and tools emerge. While many things about the future of real estate are uncertain, we can be sure that technology will continue to reshape how brokers and agents approach their work.
In that spirit, here’s a few emerging technologies to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Virtual Reality is Becoming Real
Virtual tours have been around for a while now and many realtors will develop these as a standard part of the marketing material for a listing. Buyers love these videos, because they give them a sense of standing in the property and looking around and can give them comfort to commit to a visit. Still, virtual tours are not perfect. The rooms they show are somewhat limited and they often fail to convey a proper sense of scale. Overall though, they make buying a property from another state or even another country far more practical and efficient than ever before.
The evolution of standard, two-dimensional, 360 degree virtual tour videos is here, however. Virtual reality or 3D viewers can be purchased for as little as $10 online (try Unofficialcardboard.com) and the difference in the viewing experience is extraordinary. By being able to virtually navigate through a home, buyers obtain a more realistic and immersive experience than pictures and standard two-dimensional videos could ever provide. You’ll pay a little to have a company make or convert your video to 3D format, but it will make your brokerage look cutting edge. For elite listings and a tech savvy millennial generation, that can make the difference when it comes to standing out from the crowd. Some brokers have embraced this tech wholeheartedly, buying these viewers in bulk, branding them with the name of their brokerage, and making it a standard part of a listing presentation.
Expedited Closing Documentation & Paperless Transaction Management
There was a time when the closing process was frequently delayed because agents had to find the time to meet with their clients every time another vital document needed to be signed. Closing meetings could take hours, and cramps of the hand were common after initialing that 37th mortgage page! Thankfully, those days are largely over due in part to e-signature applications like DocuSign, which allow agents and consumers to exchange and sign documents instantly online. Signing up with DocuSign is a breeze and for a small monthly fee, a broker can provide this service to all their agents.
Until recently, some closing documents still had to be signed in person and notarized but now services like Notarize allow for that portion to be handled digitally as well. For those people purchasing a property from a distance, this added convenience is invaluable and for brokers and agents, the less bumps in the closing process, the better.
Additionally, paperless transaction management platforms helps agents to manage all of their transaction requirements with the brokerage from wherever they are. These software platforms allow documents to be accessed and shared between the agent and broker from anywhere, anytime. Plus it includes checklists and tasks, helps reduce audit time and ensure compliance, all while eliminating volumes of paper files.
Geo-fencing & Lead Generation
Leveraging the advertising capabilities of social media platforms is not new to realtors, but as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat compete to earn their share of advertising budgets, they’re becoming increasingly sophisticated. One exciting advancement is the development of highly targeted geographic ad capabilities in these platforms dubbed “Geo-Fencing.”
Imagine that an agent or prospective home buyer is driving around on a Sunday and suddenly they cross within a mile of your listing. Using geo-fencing techniques, an ad pops up on all the smart phones in the car. Or maybe you can target people in the area to come to your open house? Or target another agent’s open house with an ad for a similar home listing?
All these techniques and more are possible in the smartphone age; your imagination is the limit. The power of being able to directly target the right people based on their demographics, behaviors, and current location is a promising tool for agents and brokers eager for new ways to stand out and generate real estate leads.
Versatility Is Invaluable
Consumers continue to demand high-tech capabilities and versatility from their real estate agents, which means you can’t afford to ignore the constant advancements in technology. But no matter how amazing the technology is, Weichert brokers know it will never replace the power of a real human connection or the confidence that can only come from a handshake and looking someone in the eye. Jim Weichert recognized the need for this balance from day one of establishing the Weichert brand and his guiding principles continue to lead Weichert franchisees to success.
If you’re interested in staying ahead of the latest and greatest industry technology, visit weichertfranchise.com or call 877-567-3350 to find out how you can become a Weichert affiliate.