RISMEDIA, May 14, 2007-Realtors(R) invest heavily in technology with more than half of brokers, sales agents, associate brokers and managers saying they spent more than $1,000 last year, according to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors.The 2007 Realtor Technology Survey, conducted by NAR’s Center for Realtor Technology, also found that 25 percent of respondents spent more than $2,000 on technology in 2006. In addition, approximately two-thirds of those surveyed have a real estate business Web site, and a quarter spends more than $1,000 annually to maintain their site. Nearly all of these sites — 93 percent — provide listing search capabilities. Other than their own Web site, the most popular sites for Realtors to display their listings include the local MLS, their broker’s Web site and Realtor.com.
“Realtors have invested a lot of time and millions of dollars in building and improving real estate technology, and the demand for additional technology is high,” said Mark Lesswing, NAR senior vice president and chief technology officer. “While eight in 10 Realtors think the current technology supplied by their broker is valuable, two-thirds would like their broker to expand the amount of technology offered. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed were also interested in augmenting the technology and services offered by their Multiple Listing Service.”
One of those services is the Comparative Market Analysis, which compares a home to similar properties that have sold in an area. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed include a CMA as part of their listing presentations, and most Realtors are satisfied with the program. However, 35 percent thought the program could be improved by offering the ability to personalize designs and making it easier to use.
The most popular devices Realtors use in their day-to-day business include digital cameras, desktop computers and cell phones. The survey also revealed the growing popularity of smart phones or PDAs, which provide phone, Internet and e-mail capabilities. In 2005, only 8 percent of respondents used a smart phone compared to 28 percent in 2006, and as many as 30 percent of respondents plan to purchase or replace one in the coming year.
Realtors’ use of automated forms and transaction management software is also on the rise as real estate transactions become more complex. In fact, more than three-fourths of Realtors(R) surveyed said they must manage as many as 20 documents to complete a real estate transaction. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed use an automated forms management program to help streamline the paperwork involved in a transaction. Twenty-three percent of respondents use a transaction management system, which tracks each step of the real estate process, and 69 percent of those who aren’t currently using a transaction management system are interested in adopting the technology.
“By integrating and adopting innovative systems and processes, Realtors continue to advance real estate technology, improving communication with home buyers and sellers and streamlining transactions,” said NAR President Pat V. Combs, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS- Schmidt. “However, real estate is still a high-touch business. Building strong, personal relationships with home buyers and sellers and understanding their unique needs, is essential to helping them find the home of their dreams.”
Indeed, survey respondents cite referrals and repeat business as the top sources for generating the greatest number of leads. One-third of respondents said that more than half of their business comes from referral clients, which makes staying in touch with current and past clients crucial to a Realtor’s success. The most popular way to maintain relationships with current clients is through phone calls (48 percent) and e-mail (39 percent).
Two-thirds of Realtors continue to communicate with their former clients at least once or more every quarter. The methods, however, have changed. Electronic newsletters have gained in popularity as a way to stay in touch with former clients; other favored methods are mailings and market updates. By comparison, the telephone has fallen out of favor; in 2005, one of every three Realtors picked up the phone to reach out to former clients, but less than 1 percent of Realtors in the current survey relied on phone calls to stay in touch with their past client base.
The 2007 Realtor Technology Survey was based on data from field research conducted from February 28 to March 14 of this year. CRT e-mailed the survey to 21,869 NAR members, including Realtor brokers and agents, and generated 468 usable responses. The survey is available for free download at http://www.realtor.org/crt.
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