There is a meme that did the rounds on LinkedIn and Twitter in early April that is particularly applicable to the real estate industry. A new wave of digital transformation is happening as agents, buyers and sellers adapt and adopt new ways of getting around the ‘paper shuffle’ part of the process, which has been an inherent time delay up to now.
Real estate industry ripe for change
In his book, The Digital Transformation Playbook, leading author and educator David Rogers argues that real estate professionals were “adaptive to the first wave of internet dominance by shifting from being the gatekeepers of home listings (the only ones with all the information) to becoming a resource for the buyers and sellers in the high-stakes decision process” - using online channels to share their expertise and brand via blogs, social media etc.
What the industry has, however, been slower in taking up is applying technologies to their owned assets, such as their websites, that enhance the online experience of buying and selling for the customer.
That great opportunity was almost handed on a plate to the businesses that were not selling real estate but enabling real estate to be found in one place by the customer, and therefore becoming the owner to the customer’s digital journey in real estate. These players of course, are the media and technology companies that continue to dominate the digital landscape – the portals.
Video and virtual tours, online meetings, digital contracts, digital auction and offer services, personalised social media marketing and the ease and convenience of marketing automation – these tools, that have allowed smart real estate businesses to survive and thrive during COVID-19, are not going to be put back in the box at the end of this crisis.
Expectations will shift permanently
Buyer and seller’s expectations will shift permanently as they have been able to access online tools, already available to them in other business verticals, that make their property transaction – faster, easier and more enjoyable. And those who move quickly and apply the tech to their everyday service delivery will win.
One example, close to home for our clients at Adfenix, is the benefit of taking greater digital ownership of lead qualification. Those who have jumped on the opportunity to start using Engage are already starting to see positive results, and are able to test and question the effectiveness of their existing tools.
The relative value of the live chat or chatbots experience for customers, against the ease of answering intelligently-posed automated questions, that don’t require interpretation or heavy lifting, has been identified as a valid consideration. Better experiences and efficiency are being created through an application of technology at a pace unprecedented in the real estate industry.
Tech adaptation and adoption borne out of necessity
What we are seeing in this wave of digital adaptation, borne out of necessity, is the uptake in the areas of telecommuting, virtual events and cloud technologies (1) which have allowed the industry to pivot rapidly to a new business as usual. But there will be further changes.
New business models will emerge for real estate as it further embraces the use of technology to solve traditional problems, because transformation does require integrating technology into every area of the business. When done right, it will allow companies to provide unprecedented value to customers.
In the post-pandemic era, we are all being forced to shape up and drive our digital programs forward – like it or not! Personally, I can’t wait.