Whitepaper: Top technology trends to be on the lookout for in the real estate industry
More than ever, it is important for all parties involved in a real estate transaction to immerse themselves in the latest technology. Why? No. 1: Incorporating tech to improve the buyer experience is becoming more and more expected, and No 2: Technology, if used correctly, can save you time and money.
Gen-Z buyers are already here
The people looking to buy homes are getting younger and younger. It turns out the generation after the millennials is ready – and in a lot of cases – able to buy their first homes.
Why do we bring that up? It’s not to just tell you that a bunch of 20-year-olds are entering the housing market. It’s to show that the homebuyer pool is poised to get younger at a much quicker rate than it did with millennials (who by the way are buying homes now at high rates.) Why is this? While many in the “Gen Z” generation (those born after 1995) will still have the student loan debt that has delayed many of their older siblings’ foray into the housing market, they did not have the front-row seat to the housing crisis that may have soured some millennials on the idea that owning a home is integral to achieving the American Dream.
This infusion of younger buyers into the market means a couple of things for those involved in the home buying process. A digital footprint and grasp of how to use technology to your advantage is about to get exponentially important. For better or worse, social media and the internet is where millennials and Gen-Z’ers go to vet real estate attorneys, agents, lenders and title companies. So, if you were an early- adopter of digital marketing, keep up the good work and expect to reap even more rewards soon. And if you have resisted the digital transformation, it’s not too late to catch up because more potential clients are entering the market than ever before. Additionally, and we like this reason a lot, the younger generations are much more trusting and accepting of automation and other electronic solutions. There is truly not a better time to explore how Easysoft’s automation technology can help you and your partners be quicker, safer and more efficient.
For these young generations, it’s not good enough to just be on the internet or social media: You need to have a site and content optimized for mobile use – these people have grown up with cell phones being connected to the internet – but that is just the start. Here are some of the next-level technology trends that are already affecting the real estate market but will undoubtedly help shape it more in the future.
We’ve already devoted lots of space in other white papers to e-closings and how the real estate industry is finally moving toward acceptance that e-closings are a viable, safe option for both us and our clients. But it wouldn’t be a complete tech guide if we didn’t mention it here again that e-closings – and all the advantages they offer – are going to change the closing game for the better well after their novelty wears off.
Chatbots are more sophisticated than ever
One of the easiest ways to take advantage of technology is to utilize “chatbots” on your website and Facebook page. Think of bots as auto-messengers that can be programed so specifically that they can help your clients through basic issues. They have been around for years (If you’re part of the AOL Instant Messenger generation, remember Smarterchild?) But their use as customer service ambassadors has really taken off in Facebook Messenger. Such bots can be made customizable and as detailed as you want them to be thanks to plenty of bot-building programs out there today. Botsify, Chatfuel and ConverseAI are three top picks for setting one up, according to socialmediaexaminer.com.
Having a well-programed bot is an easy way to have a 24/7 brand ambassador working for you, no matter how big your business is. It’s also an easy way to instantly answer common questions and be the first attempt at helping customers with issues. Also, because bots are so widely used today, people are used to talking to them. They can tell when they are speaking to a bot and not a real person and realize that such programs, while advanced, won’t be able to help with every issue they have. However, you do want to make sure your bot does direct people to ways they can get their issue resolved by actual humans if need be. Not having a way to connect with a real person will certainly leave clients with the feeling that your bot is incomplete or a waste of time.
More than just one "reality"
Two related technologies that Realtors especially should be keeping track of and finding a way to incorporate into their websites and listings is virtual and augmented reality. It sounds fancy, but it’s really not. Virtual reality is as simple as allowing users to take virtual tours through homes by clicking through their website. Almost every camera and phone these days has the capability of taking 360- degree photos and videos. It just takes some patience and practice to make such presentations presentable.
Augmented reality sounds a little more complicated because it is built around the user’s actual location. (Remember how Pokémon Go was so popular last year?) But thanks to its already exploding popularity and usefulness, there are plenty of programs out there to help you take advantage of augmented reality. It is already allowing potential customers use their location to look up detailed information about houses they are looking at by just taking a photo of where they are. While these realities might not benefit the closing side of the real estate transaction yet, you can bet someone will find a way to use them soon. And if consumers are expecting these experiences from their real estate agents, they’ll soon expect a similar approach from their real estate attorneys and settlement service providers.
Blockchain (and bitcoin)
The widespread use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, is likely much further down the horizon for many of us to devote too much time. But it is worth keeping tabs on how quickly and to what degree cryptocurrency works its way into the commercial real estate market. No matter how small your outfit is, it is also worth gaining at least a basic knowledge of how both cryptocurrency and blockchain recording works.
One of the benefits of a blockchain ledger is that it is so secure that if it ever becomes widely used, fraud will be drastically reduced. In fact, those in the title insurance industry will tell you that the chance that blockchain could be used to record real estate deals and land records has already got them thinking about how their industry can evolve because the need for the protection such insurance affords could be minimized by the new technology.
These are just a few of the trends to incorporate into your business – or in the instance of blockchain – to keep an eye on in 2018. But there are undoubtedly plenty more that you may find beneficial.
Challenge yourself, click those articles that talk about technology trends and commit to figuring how to incorporate a few of them in your daily life to improve the business. If automation is one of the innovations you want to learn more about, contact Easysoft today.
Making sure you know the technology you want to use is our final tip – the only thing worse than not using technology is using technology you know nothing about. That will lead to headaches and customers who will no longer think of you as a closing expert. You never want that.