By Marc Gould
Technology can be over-whelming. Staying on top of the latest tools to benefit you, your agents and your clients is a never-ending challenge. Sometimes an innovation brings real benefit, while other times the latest and greatest turns out to be just another shiny object. How do you decide what has value?
According to the most recent REALTOR® Technology Survey Report, brokers and agents find the most value in technology tools that allow them to conduct business quickly, conveniently and on the go. Forms software, mobile applications, tablet computers, property databases and CRM solutions topped the list of most valuable tools. For buyer brokers, there are new sites to help turn potential clients into real buyers with step-by-step educational tools. If you’re not happy with your current system, or just want to expand your resources, it might be time to shop around.
It’s no surprise then that the REALTOR® Technology Survey Report confirms that virtually all REALTORS® now use smartphones in their business and more than 94 percent of members communicate with clients using a mobile device. More specifically, buyer brokers and agents rely on their mobile devices to inform clients of new listings, to send property updates, to help in transaction management, and to compile neighborhood information. Smartphones and tablets are much more than communication devices; they now function more as virtual offices.
While it’s good to know your options, how do you decide what’s best for your office? The truth is, what works for others might not work for you or your agents. Just as every market is different, so too is every buyer broker office. Your clients are different, your agents’ abilities are different, and your culture is different. Technology is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Sometimes, you have to just try something out. Put yourself in your agents’ shoes, view it from your clients’ perspective, and make a judgment call—is it valuable or just a distraction?
But before you can kick the tires, you need to know what’s on the market. What new technologies are on the horizon? What new tools have others found valuable? Where is technology leading the industry and how can you stay on top of the game? To help REALTORS® keep up with the latest mobile and Web-based technologies, the National Association of REALTORS® is continuing its one-day technology conference series, NAR Tech Edge, in 2014.
NAR Tech Edge events are happening in several locations across the U.S. starting this spring. NAR speakers and local technology experts will present sessions on topics including mobile marketing, online reputation management, Google and cloud computing, content strategy, social media, the importance of photo and video, and much more. What else can you expect? Past events have covered various topics, including best mobile apps, social media marketing, WordPress, search engine optimization, online relationship development, Google, Google Apps, real estate law, how to create content, optimizing technology for more listings, best computer software, and more.
The event kicks off in Chicago in April, Detroit and Atlanta in June, Sacramento in August, and Phoenix and Cleveland in September. More locations may be coming. For more information and to register, visit www.epronar.com/nar-tech-edge.
Marc Gould is vice president, Business Specialties, for the National Association of REALTORS® and executive director of REBAC. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who work directly with buyer-clients. To learn more, visit REBAC.net.