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Technology. It’s a hot topic in any industry in today’s COVID world as businesses have had to pivot to stay productive while maintaining safe, social distancing protocols. The topic was recently discussed at RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO Exchange, held this year on Sept. 17 as an all-day virtual event co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS®.

But what type of technology have today’s brokerages and agents leveraged to stay efficient? RISMedia’s CEO Exchange session, “Technology’s Reckoning: What Works and What Doesn’t, Revealed,” discussed the power of tech and how to determine what to stick with and what to let go.

“The real estate industry has both led the change for the benefit of consumers and have been forced to adapt to new environments that demand distancing and closings,” said Dave Garland, managing partner of Second Century Ventures and the session’s moderator, to kick off the discussion.

Many brokerages leaned on their proprietary technology to provide their agents with the necessary support to stay afloat, and even successful, during these challenging times.

“Our proprietary software allowed us to pivot really quickly and to deploy our workforce from home,” said Ashley Bowers, president of HomeSmart, adding that, at the core, communication and being able to manage business from anywhere was essential.

HomeSmart’s technology also allowed the brokerage to rely on real-time data vs. outside noise that could lead real estate brokers down the wrong path.

“That real-time data provided exactly what was going on with the business at any level—whether it be at the agent level, the brokerage level or even across the entire franchise system—which was key so we didn’t over or under react to anything having to do with the pandemic as it related to the real estate industry,” added Bowers.

At the start of the pandemic, broker leaders had to figure out which tools would help the business and which ones might hurt it.

Christina Pappas, vice president of The Keyes Company, asked three questions to determine which tools would prove useful:

1. Does it drive business?
2. Does it solve a problem?
3. Does it save money?

“If it does one of these things, it shouldn’t be a Band-Aid for the short term, it should be something that fits into your strategy for the long term,” said Pappas.

“The pandemic has made all of us take a long hard look at what the brokerage provides to its agents,” said Simon Chen, executive vice president, Product & Innovation, Realogy Holdings Corp.

More than that, however, it means having to embrace virtual processes that were possibly outside of their comfort level. For example, Chen said that working via video chat programs, like Zoom, was a challenge early on. With a little time, however, “we were able to accelerate our productivity while remote,” said Chen.

Anthony Lamacchia, CEO and broker/owner, Lamacchia Realty, had a similar experience with Microsoft Teams. At first, there was a learning curve, but three days later, he mastered it.

“We’re actually getting business done quicker and making decisions faster because we can just put something on a screen right now instead of waiting to meet,” said Lamacchia.

At the core of it all, whether for supporting agents or consumers, technology should be a tool used to keep relationships strong so the business can continue thriving.

“Relationships matter, and technology helps us to better improve those relationships even during a crisis like the one we are enduring right now,” said Garland.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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