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The clock is just about to run out on 2017, and now is the time to assess, regroup and strategize. How did you do? What’s next?

Catering to the on-demand economy—the consumer-driven, get-it-now landscape we live in today—is a must for real estate practitioners in the year ahead. According to Georg Gerstenfeld, general manager of Real Estate and vice president with DocuSign, considering consumer preferences and technology is vital.

“Think about what the on-demand economy looks like in [your clients’] homes and the homes of the future,” Gerstenfeld said to attendees of the recent 2017 REALTORS® Conference & Expo. “The people are ready. The houses that you are selling now are houses that are going to be in transformed communities.”

From intelligent refrigerators and thermostats to Zipcar, home lives are shifting, Gerstenfeld explained. The charge now is for real estate professionals to educate themselves about these technologies, as well as market their proficiency in them, to remain valuable.

“Be on-demand in every way,” said Gerstenfeld. “Technology is going to help you be more efficient at what you do, and technology is what you can advise your clients on—’What is going to happen with Zipcars?’ ‘Should I a buy a home with a garage?’ or ‘Is it okay if I convert the garage into a bedroom?’ Become an expert on the things that are going to affect the value of the asset you’re helping your clients buy and sell.”

Consumers’ expectations regarding response time are also part and parcel with the on-demand economy. The majority of homebuyers and sellers expect a response from a real estate practitioner within one hour—and roughly 20 percent expect a response within 10 minutes, Gertsenfeld shared. Three-quarters of professionals, indeed, agree that their clients expect them to respond faster than they did even five years ago.

The key, according to Gerstenfeld, is to redefine your role as a real estate professional—not only to keep relevant and respond in time, but also to sustain. (Get exclusive insight in RISMedia’s white paper, “The Disruption of the Real Estate Industry: A Survival Guide for Brokers and Agents.”)

The good news? The majority of homebuyers and sellers rely on real estate practitioners—still. Eighty-seven percent of homebuyers, in fact, worked with a professional in the transaction, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

“People need their agents and their brokers to be their local expert, to be the tech expert, and show them how to make the most of the asset that is their home,” Gerstenfeld said. “Great client experience can’t be substituted for with pure technology. It takes that human element that you bring.”

Gertsenfeld suggested three action steps:

  1. Own Your Brand
    “It’s amazing to me how many folks are not conscious and deliberate about what their brand is and what they stand for and who they want to be,” Gerstenfeld said. “Take ownership of knowing what you stand for, what sets you part and what differentiates you from everybody else.”
  1. Embrace Technology
    “Technology is affecting your clients and customers and the industry in such a way that you need to be informed and aware about it,” said Gerstenfeld. “Get comfortable with using that one thing, or some technology that gives your client a better experience.”
  1. Delight Your Customers
    “What used to delight a customer five years ago doesn’t delight them today,” Gerstenfeld said. “Their expectations are changing and shifting, and the world around them is setting a different pace for them. If you’re not thinking about what next will delight customers, you’re going to fall behind, and are at risk of being disrupted.”

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more from this year’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

For more information, please visit

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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