RISMEDIA, April 28, 2011—There was a time not too long ago when the main demographic target of any real estate agent was the generation of Baby Boomers. This was a generation that valued the American dream of owning a home, and looked to the expertise of the agent. With that in mind, all agents advertised themselves in the same manner. Each had a specific role, whether it be Listing Agent, Buyer’s Agent, etc., and would take a glamour shot that was attached to bus benches and business cards, and would hand out calendars and magnetized notepads. These agents would rely on word-of-mouth referrals and the loyalty of their customers. Deals were done in person, house and office calls were frequent, and paperwork was completed with reams of paper being hand-signed and faxed over and over and over again.
Then, the market landscape slowly started to change. The Internet became popular, and savvy agents jumped at the chance for free advertising and the distinction of being “ahead of the times.” Then came the housing boom where houses were bought and sold in days, if not hours, of being advertised. The housing crash came soon after, and with it came a whole new landscape that agents need to understand. This landscape is comprised of Gen X and Gen Y buyers who want an agent that understands their lifestyle and can easily help them, no matter what they are looking for.
So what does this mean for you as an agent? And how can you position yourself on top?
Your ability to diversify yourself, as well as your ability to embrace technology, is critical in today’s real estate landscape. One of the first things you need to do as an agent is to understand every part of the real estate transaction. You need to become a Buyer’s Agent, a Listing Agent, a Short Sale specialist, and an REO agent. You need to become a jack of all trades and embrace any type of transaction your client is looking for.
Next, you need to embrace technology. This is more or less a two-step process. First, you must get online. More than likely, you already have a website. However, you need more than just your traditional glamour shot on the front page with your contact information. You need to make sure that all the information about your properties is available quickly and easily. This includes locations, multiple quality images of both the interior and exterior of the property, and neighborhood information including distances to nearby schools, coffee shops, etc. You don’t need to have flashing images, or bright ads. The information will draw in your clients just as well. Do you have a blog on your website? Make sure you add one if you don’t. Blogs are easy to set up through sites such as WordPress, and can make for an easy—and search-engine friendly!—directory of your properties and their open houses. Do you have Instant Messenger, and can you text faster than you can think? If not, start practicing. Clients in the Gen X and Gen Y generations want to be able to go to your website, find a property, see as much as they can about it, text you with a question, and have you respond. They don’t want to go to your office, or meet you for coffee. They want an instant answer and if you can’t provide it, they will move on to someone who can.
The next step to stay on top is to find a way to do your entire real estate transaction online. Do your research and find the companies that allow you to connect online with your clients, lenders, and whoever you need. The more connected you are, the better, as most of the new generation of clients don’t have time to come to your office to sign documents. They would much rather do so from the comfort of their living rooms. Additionally, this is a very informed generation, so they want to know what’s going on at all times during the real estate transaction. Rather than having to call or text constantly, if they have an area online where they can view the status of each step in the transaction, they will be much happier with your service. Also, remember that these generations are very green oriented. They’d much rather electronically sign their name and store a document on their hard drive than have stacks of paper they need to find a place for. The platforms are out there to expose your talents, connect you to the buyers and sellers, and allow you to manage your transactions all in one area; you just need to find the ones that are best for you.
The real estate industry has changed drastically since most of us entered into the arena, and none of us can afford to stick to the status quo any longer. In order to survive, we all must embrace the next generation of clients, and accept their way of thinking and transacting. We have to accept the need to diversify, the fact that our websites are not up to par, and that emails are too slow. An in-person meeting is never as effective as a transparent transaction. We can all be successful, but only if we accept that the landscape has changed, and that we must change right along with it.
Todd Mobraten is the COO of RES.NET, a real estate technology platform that provides an array of functional portals, each specifically designed for various aspects of the real estate industry. For more information, please visit www.res.net, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.