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RISMEDIA, June 5, 2010—As consumers increasingly turn to the Internet and other mobile devices to find real estate information, real estate agents across the board are trying to stay one step ahead and define their role as a modern-day agent. Here, Rich Rector, Owner and Executive Chairman, Realty Executives International, Inc. discusses how agents can position themselves successfully to meet the needs of today’s consumer.

Rich Rector
Owner and Executive Chairman
Realty Executives International, Inc.

There is a great deal of excitement, as well as resistance, within the real estate industry to engage in today’s online communication forums with consumers.

Real estate brokers and agents have historically relied on the telephone, but the younger generation is steering away from that medium as evident in the fact that the average teenager texts 100 times a day. As they age, texting will remain one of their primary ways of communicating. This trend will continue to push technology toward real-time, digital information sharing. As modern-day agents, we must adapt or get left behind.

So what is our role as the modern-day real estate agent?

Going forward, the biggest shift in the real estate profession is that technology is going to change how consumers perceive our role in their home-buying experience. Consumers now do much of their own research and rely on the Internet for their due diligence in searching the right neighborhood, school district, crime statistics, taxes and home comparables. Access to resources like Google Maps, and has changed the game.

However, Realtors will always play a critical role in providing expert knowledge to a buyer or seller’s unique situation. Brokers and agents offer information on ever-changing government regulations, REOs and short sales, they guide individuals through negotiations and financing, and provide insight into submarkets that only they understand through experience. Real estate professionals have a wealth of knowledge that cannot be found online.

The role of a Realtor is not touring hundreds of homes with a handful of clients anymore. Now, agents can service a hundred consumers in a given week. We are transitioning to online “digital agents” who help consumers in their home-buying search journey, which requires a strong online presence of your personal brand.

Building your personal brand as a knowledgeable thought leader will establish, over time, what the world thinks of you and thus how you will generate more business. Otherwise, without a personal brand that people can recognize online, you will not be on the radar for consumers to find.

Social networking tools—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, as examples—are some of the best means in engaging current and prospective clients, while at the same time establishing your personal brand.

Engaging socially online is the future. Over the course of the next 12-24 months, for example, most real estate websites will transition from static sites with pretty photos into more informative news and blog-type forums that will provide real-time information. The big question is how to leverage this online activity into actual real estate business.

Transparency, authenticity and expert knowledge will most certainly generate more business for you in the long run through word of mouth and relationship building.

This is a monumental shift real estate professionals can expect because it fulfills the wants and needs of today’s technology savvy consumer.