When Joe got into the business in 1999 there was no email, internet... not really, no smart phones, no social media, no apps, and no WIFI. The Big MLS book (printed every month) was how we received listing information. Customers would come in and meet with the Agents face to face and we would choose the properties to see. Sometimes we would make copies of the pages and use our most powerful tool... THE FAX MACHINE to send listings! My how times have changed! Or have they?
The reality is that real estate is still a face to face business. What's different is information availability and the speed of data delivery. At the consumers finger tips, through real estate IDX (Internet Data Exchange). IDX is the electronic reciprocal sharing of MLS data between real companies. Real time real estate data... aka listing information, is available to any consumer with an internet connection!
Many industries have been mechanized by technology, leading to a drastic reduction in the number of professionals (people) needed to do the work. It was feared that Realtors would be next on the chopping block, supplanted by technology allowing direct consumer access between buyers and sellers. In many cases machines are more efficient than humans in carrying out routine tasks. Major industries most impacted by electronic data automation are Banking (scan your check by phone or direct deposit)... how convenient is this!... Stock Brokers (TD Ameritrade) and the like have enabled consumer direct online investing and trading, Tesla and self driving cars and trucks, and Smile Direct, (Electronic Orthodonics!!!)... is real estate next?
How is it possible, when other industries are being completely taken over by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and electronic consumer direct automation, that real estate survives as we currently know it? The NAR (National Association of Realtors) states "Despite the abundance of publicly-accessible property data from consumer-centric real estate portals, more home buyers and sellers are seeking counsel from real estate agents, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors®. In fact, nearly 90 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker in 2019—a dramatic increase from 69 percent in 2001."
The incredible public access to real estate listings, actives, solds, and neighborhood maps has leveled the playing field, empowering home buyers and sellers with real time active and sold data. This has effectively eliminated many of the unscrupulous "shady" real estate operators. But more importantly, the customer still wants an expert advising them because the real estate transaction is still met with strong anxiety due to the sale numbers being so large (often someone's largest financial transaction) and the complexity of it all. For many, its a life altering commitment
Real Estate is very subjective. The data cannot be easily sorted like analyzing a company stock chart. A property has dozens unique characteristics such as age, general condition, style, amenities, systems age, fuel type, location relevance, market conditions, tax assessments, and more. A machine cannot interpret these intrinsic values. The other factor is the public does not trust strangers to enter their homes unaccompanied unless by a licensed and fingerprinted real estate professional. Agents interpret the data, they are buyer or seller's representative, negotiating as a fiduciary.
So long as Agents are viewed as professional consultants, much like a family doctor or accountant, and the Agents are viewed as the trusted resource to show listed properties (physically opening the doors of homes vs automation), then our continued future prospects for real estate sales success is assured. Above all, real estate is such an emotional move, the general public will pay a professional because they do not want to make a mistake — (buyers overpaying and sellers under selling). A trusted Agent manages the emotion which can otherwise supersede logic, clouding rational thought. The Agent becomes the rock, the voice of reason, a trusted consultant... that's the value. That's why the trend is for more Realtors, not less.
So what do you need? What are the must have — fundamental technology pieces for you to be successful in real estate?
Real Estate is a fast paced Business. It's mobile Business (You will be operating from your home, your real estate office, on location from a property, from title companies, and yes... from your car!) The following, in order of importance, is the technology infra-structure for the modern day real estate professional:
Remote Access: this piece enables the mobility of your business. Remote access links all your devices to "the cloud". All you need is an internet connection. The key element is that your real estate company has the digital infra-structure to receive cloud based communication. The amazing thing about remote access is the "sync" ability across all your devices (PC, laptop, tablet, and smart phone). At Joe Wiessner Realty we provide all our Agents with remote access capability through Microsoft Sharepoint and One Drive. Agents can load Sharepoint on up to 5 devices and work remotely anywhere there's an internet connection. At your fingertips are all the contracts, addendums, client files, email, and all your customer contacts.
High Speed WIFI: Get the highest speed that you can afford. Currently we work with 400Mbps in our offices. Believe me, if you're working the business right, the last thing you want is slowness to the internet!
Laptop Computer: Every Agent should have a laptop. Minimum requirements are the biggest screen you can get, 1 terabyte solid state hard drive, and a minimum of 8 gigabytes of RAM, — 16GB would be better.
Smart Phone and/or Tablet: Don't skimp here. Get the biggest screen possible, fastest processor, and enough storage to at least temporarily store your real estate pictures and video's. The new camera's in the new smart phones rival DSLR camera's! As a matter of fact, on many photo shoots for listings, we exclusively use the latest smart phones, they're that good! All these photo and video files are very large (photos often larger than 5MB and videos 50MB+).
Email: In the office we us Microsoft Outlook, but any of the reliable providers work just fine. Most email programs have integrated contact managers (this is huge) and allow for template creation for routine emails. Many Agents use Outlook or Gmail as their contact managers (nothing wrong with that!). Each Agent has the option of using their own email or the Company email through Microsoft. Its recommended that personal email and business email be separated. The Microsoft Agent email would be email@example.com.
Cloud Storage: Many real estate companies use the program Dropbox for their file management. We were never a fan of this program. The interface is cumbersome, the Agent email sending the document is masked (prevents quick reply's from emails), some require initial recipient registration. We don't have time for that and the accompanying "forced compliance" just to conduct routine business.
Quick access to client files is a key to maximum efficiency. At Joe Wiessner Realty each Agent has their own electronic User File. The Agent stores active listing and pending clients files in their own Cloud User File through Microsoft Sharepoint. All pertinent documents (for upload and download) are stored in a central location for fluid interactions between Company and Agent for contract creation, contract review, contract disbursement, contract delivery, and general storage and accessibility for all transaction documents. Its a real time saver and very efficient way to handle the usual avalanche of documents associated with each deal.
Laser Printer: they're inexpensive and a much better alternative than ink jet.
Truth be told, the alarming reality is the average real estate agent has anywhere from 300 to 500 hours of unfinished business at any given time! Having the most up to date technology will do wonders to "clearing your runway"... get ready for take off!
Joe Wiessner Realty has the most advanced real estate tools available to their Agents. We use these tools everyday, we coach our Agents how to use the tools, and we can assist Agents in implementing them. If you're remotely interested in operational efficiency with the best real estate technology anywhere, contact us today!