By Gabe Weisert, Content Marketing Manager
Thanks to the advent of powerful new platforms like Zillow and Trulia, today’s house hunters are hyper-informed about a variety of arcane data points that could previously only be found buried in proprietary databases or municipal archives.
Potential new clients walk into realtor offices armed with a dizzying array of statistics: neighborhood property values, school ratings, crime rates, sale prices, foreclosure alerts.
But transparency and big data works for realtors as well. In addition to serving as vital advertising platforms, Trulia and Zillow feature a number of dedicated tools for sellers as well as buyers. New lead generation platforms like BoomTown and Zurple as well as intuitive file solutions like Box and DocuSign are helping agents find clients, place properties and close deals at a record clip.
In fact, you could argue that the new real estate tools that have emerged since the crash of 2008 are significantly contributing to the general resurgence in the housing market by dramatically accelerating the buying process.
“We can actually get work done 24 hours a day thanks to cloud technology and file sharing. We can share a folder housing all available properties for an overseas client to buy or rent, and they can comment and categorize while we are sleeping. Then we can make offers and do deals based on their comments while they are sleeping – so efficient!” – Joan Brothers, licensed real estate broker
By definition, most of today’s domestic real estate buyers are over-informed and under-experienced. The biggest financial decision they will every make is embedded in an arcane process rife with acres of paperwork, unfamiliar vocabulary, and dueling counter-offers. Ridiculous housing markets like New York or the Bay Area can only add to the stress.
“Technology is the reason agents spend a good deal of time de-programming the public, and can be a drawback. For example, the news reports have buyers thinking a home can be purchased for pennies, while sellers think their home is worth more than any other. The two don’t go together. Additionaly, real estate involves time frames and deadlines. A consumer doesn’t want to be in a compromising position – sending requests and notices improperly, which could result in legal trouble.” – Bridgette Freeman, real estate broker
It’s a tricky balance of acknowledging the importance of your client’s asidious online research, while also demonstrating the fact that you have your own professional expertise.
“Real estate portals like Zillow have made consumers feel much more self-sufficient, and some agents have felt threatened by that. Our approach has been to get ahead of the trend, and give tools to our agents that pick up where Zillow leaves off. That way, agents can continue to demonstrate the expertise they have while not looking out of step with the latest consumer-facing technology.” – York Bauer, CEO of Windermere Solutions
And while they’re not as well known as the consumer-facing platforms, the new breed of lead generation platforms like Zurple and BoomTown are helping realtors maximize their time and turn clicks into closings.
“We utilize the BoomTown platform as the front and back end of our business. The front end is the consumer side of the website, which our clients constantly rave about. They love how easy it is to navigate and how visually appealing it is. The back end is the brokerage side, which our agents use to manage all of the clients in their database. They love how the system does a lot of the heavy lifting for them by telling them which clients they need to connect with and why based on actions the client has taken on our website.” Kyle Whissel, Whissel Realty
The best realtors are leveraging this flood of new data to highlight their own hard-won industry experience and local knowledge. Timely and accurate information is crucial at at the beginning of a house hunt, but ultimately this is a potentially fraught process that requires a deft balance of professional and personal relationships.
“Because buying/selling a home is usually emotional – and the biggest financial transaction for most people – sometimes little, petty details get in the way. Someone who is emotionally attached to, say, a garden will think they should get a huge premium. A good realtor will know how to jolt them out of dream world and get them to sell.” – Yael Ishakis, Loan Officer
As someone who recently endured the process of purchasing a home in the Bay Area, I can attest to the importance of retaining an informed and diplomatic realtor! My agent Cordula Didier secured a tough bid and saved me thousands of dollars in potential contracting costs.
Online real estate tools are invaluable part of the home buying process. But so is the expertise, experience, and personal touch of an empowered realtor.
“The online sites as well as our own social media accounts are a valuable tool for us to stay connected to our clients and increase awareness of our listings and our brand. They don’t sell real estate though. We still have to close the deal once we get the leads.”- Hunter Brant, The Oakwood Companies
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