Mobile Internet Technology is changing the Real Estate Industry
Recently I had the good fortune of meeting with an old friend who is now a senior executive at a leading Canadian bank, that operates in T&T. And what he told me had me thinking. To paraphrase him ‘Banking is now a technology business and most of the top executives spend time learning at Google, Oracle and Apple’. If banking, one of the oldest business models, can become a technology business, I wondered how far behind is the Real Estate business in T&T.
Apparently not far behind. The executive went on to say that the approval of a Real Estate mortgage is now largely a computer algorithm (A set of computer steps to be followed in calculations) Computer technology is reshaping the Real Estate industry as you read this article.
The implications of this is mindboggling. If we want to succeed in Real Estate in the near future we have to become comfortable with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and in particular Mobile ICT.
As a Real Estate Agent you must begin by asking yourself, how can the use of ICT, transform the way in which I operate and how can it impact my Real Estate practice. I believe it can in two major ways 1) It can help you operate smarter and 2) It can help you reduce costs. It can make you more effective and more efficient.
Mobile ICT can help you operate smarter
Mobile ICT can help you operate smarter, be more effective, by better targeting and communicating with sellers and buyers. Social Media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter have powerful computer algorithms that can allow you to understand which groups are interested in which Real Estate services. By knowing this you can zero in on these targets, eliminate the wastage of resources, be it time, financial or human resources and be more effective. Consider knowing exactly which group to target in a direct mail or telemarketing campaign. Not only demographically but also who is in the market for a particular property at that time.
Recently I searched for details of a hotel in Guatemala and then found, surprisingly enough, that almost any site I visited, including BBC and CNN there was an advertisement from that specific hotel offering a vacation package promotion.
Mobile ICT can help you work more efficient
Mobile ICT can also help you be more efficient by reducing the cost and time for conducting various Real Estate practices. Consider, receiving and sending emails from your smart phones, booking appointments, daily reminders, to do lists, voice notes, road maps, message groups, taking and sharing pictures and videos, advertising on social media, storing and sharing information, getting the latest news, developing and sharing presentations…and on and on.
Mobile ICT is also changing your customer
Today’s mobile Internet technology is giving rise to a generation of customers that expect service availability 24/7 at the touch of a screen. A group that one professional advised me that prefer to shop online than in person. Retirees are purchasing retirement homes in Costa Rica without ever having vised Costa Rica. Consider how far away your next customer can be when thinking of renting or selling a vacation property in Tobago. As Real Estate professionals you are now expected to be available to these customers online whenever and wherever they have a query.
Mobile ICT is a mixed blessing
But this ease of online availability is a mixed blessing, since it can have the negative impact of Real Estate Professionals ignoring face to face meetings to their own detriment.
Mobile ICT also highlights age differences. The younger generation of Real Estate Professionals take to the new technology quicker, while the older generation have to make a concerted effort to engage online. This creates a challenge for older professionals to invest the time and resources to learn and operate the protocols of this new lifestyle.
This new technology also has cost implications for the Real Estate business. Companies now have to invest in a professional website, a Facebook page, an Instagram account and regularly maintain these sites with appropriate content. They also have to monitor their sites for negative posting from irate customers.
But if the infrastructure is properly erected it offers unparalleled mobility of agents. Professionals are no longer tied to a desk, they are mobile. They can work offsite, spend more time meeting with clients, presenting property open house, filling out forms and emailing them back to the office, presenting properties online, accessing data on clients from the company’s database via secure portals.
Mobile ICT is fast
Mobile Internet technology also greatly enhances speed of response. Today’s tech savy customer is no longer willing to wait 2 days for a response. They want a response now, and with Mobile Internet Technology you are able to respond immediately. But once again this is a two edged sword in that criticisms of poor quality customer service could just as easily be broadcast to existing and potential customers. A negative post to your Facebook or Twitter page has to be handled immediately.
The technology also changes how the customer goes about searching for listings. Customers now key in key words for a Real Estate search and seek out the top two or three responses. If your company, agent or property does not show up, you are out of the options set. This necessitates investment in search engine optimization through the use of keywords and hashtags. Once again this requires investment in the technology.
Mobile ICT ushers in a new Real Estate Industry
As with any new technology that dramatically changes the world, take for instance, the radio, the television, the train, the car, the shopping mall, the factory, if you do not jump on board you will be left behind. Consider the family farms, the hunter gathers, the itinerant cloth salesman, the tailor, the corner grocery. Real Estate professionals have a choice, hold on to the old ways or set out into the deep.
If you are one of those that would like to jump on-board this new technology wave, here are a few sites that will whet your appetite and start you on your journey.
- BiggerPockets – allows for Real Estate Forums where you can ask and share any and all Real Estate information. This evens the playing field as customers can collaborate and share information. Investors can also gather useful information at the click of an icon
- MagicPlan which allows you to create custom floor plans by just moving your phone or iPad around the room taking pictures. You can make house plans to use before a heavy remodel and to help plan for materials
- Apps that show listings of all available properties in your area.
- Scanner apps that allow you to scan documents and email them to interested persons
- HammerPoint – an app that allows you to create detailed repair estimates for any job. This can help reduce cost overruns.
- GoogleDrive, DropBox and Box – all of which allow for cloud storage, access and syncing of files across devices.
- Houzz – which gives thousands of Interior design ideas by allowing you to quickly navigate through high quality photos
These are just a few of the many smart mobile ICT that are revolutionizing the Real Estate profession.
It is without doubt that we are on the threshold of a revolution in the way Real Estate is practiced. As with all change there would be good and bad, but you cannot afford to be left behind. Let’s get on-board.