Technology: Tougher than you think to overcome in real estate

Breaking News: the sad story of a real estate secret weapon that didn’t work out at all. What is it? It’s still a relative rarity, but some traditional RE agents have now embraced technology…

Technology: Tougher than you think to overcome in real estate

Breaking News: the sad story of a real estate secret weapon that didn’t work out at all. What is it?

It’s still a relative rarity, but some traditional RE agents have now embraced technology in a major way, in order to remain competitive. You may know that the National Association of Realtors will work to bring new technology, like “virtual open houses” to more of its members.

But I just found out that my broker is doing exactly the same thing. His rationale? To provide his home buyers with “great service and personalized attention.” Despite my obvious warning of “the penalties of jumping on the technology bandwagon,” I’m hopeful that this transition might be worth the pain.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

My broker, an experienced real estate agent and an experienced interior designer, is well known in my area. On our real estate listings, and in his online service, he has installed digital showrooms. He’s always updated and verified all the information on the showroom, from the photos to the amenities. The photos are absolutely gorgeous. The information is top of the line. In addition, he works closely with my buyers. Even if we don’t put him on our listing, he’s shown up at open houses, with his sales associates, to demonstrate the quality of his products and his ongoing support. To achieve these admirable results, my broker is going to have to learn the new tools.

Technology or no, moving to new technologies in real estate is a full-time job. You can’t rely on phone screens or e-mail, as you can in other industries. Some agents will experience the serious issues when working with some of the websites. For instance, some buyers find themselves in charge of recording information for videos, files, e-mails, phone records, and changes — all without regular input from the seller. (A good technology consultant can also save the sales rep a trip to the computer, to update the postings for the investor; some real estate managers already own these devices. Technology can be an asset, rather than a hindrance.)

Still, let’s face it, technology is great in a few areas, and not so good in others. There’s the time-consuming picture resizing and editing the content creates, the pop-up windows to fill, which often take a lot of the work away from the sales person — while storing the information online — and the ability to shoot high-quality video that in many cases won’t be as sensitive to commercials or corporate logos. And then there’s the expense. E-commerce will be developed to sell services, but it is still very expensive.

Unfortunately, technology that enables a fully technological agent to earn your trust and business in an intuitive way, and leverage technology to bring more transparency and accountability to real estate transactions, doesn’t work as well as people might hope.

The good news is that the RE trade group has already taken the initiative to expand access to technology. My broker will be a major advocate. I just think we’ll all end up in a better place.

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