Navigating Innovations in Real Estate Technology

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It’s no secret that real estate buying and selling has become a digital-first experience in the 21st century. Nearly all consumers use at least one online resource as part of the process (source: NAR). 

Evolutions in real estate technology have significant implications for real estate agents. Most importantly, the pipeline through which agents build a client base is evolving. Fortunately, there are resources available to help real estate agents navigate, survive, and thrive through these changes. 

We reached out to two innovators in real estate tech to give agents insight into current and upcoming trends. Chris Heller, Chief Real Estate Officer of OJO Labs and Andrew Flachner, Co-Founder & President of RealScout shared their visions of what is coming next in real estate – and in particular, how personalization, AI, and intelligent search will affect agents. 

OJO Labs harnesses AI to improve the experience of buyers, sellers, agents, and brokerages alike. RealScout helps agents provide a modern home search and comparison experience to their clients. Both companies are on the cutting edge of real estate technology innovation, and we’re excited to share their guidance with you.

Expect More Automation and More Data-Based Decision-Making

Real estate agents have access to more data than ever before, and this data is quickly becoming impossible to manage manually. At the same time, buyers and sellers are expecting better results from agents, faster. Our experts see automation and improved data-based decision-making as the next frontiers to address these changes. 

Q: Which trend in real estate technology do you think will have the biggest impact on agents within the next 5 years? How can agents prepare for these changes?

Chris Heller: AI and other tech advancements will cause/allow agents to spend less time on certain repetitive and non essential activities and spend more time consulting and advising.

Andrew Flachner: Consumers are expecting more sophistication and certainty from their agents. While Zillow’s Zestimate and iBuyers like Opendoor are able to offer a precise answer to questions about home value and market demand, most agents are relying on outdated historical sales data to inform list price. Companies like Buyside and RealScout are revealing a real-time pulse on homebuyer demand. This data can create data-driven strategies for pricing and marketing listings.

The Dark Horses Hurting Your Bottom Line

Real estate agents and brokerages are risking their bottom lines when they lack visibility into emerging tech trends. Chris and Andrew both pointed out that new platforms and changing buyer behavior can limit agents’ access to their client bases. They can also diminish the value proposition of agents in prospects’ and clients’ minds if not properly addressed. 

Q: Are there any property tech trends that are the “dark horse” that agents aren’t paying enough attention to? Why are they important to agents and brokers?

Chris Heller: There are platforms and disruptors that are beating agents to the consumers. This means agents will be sharing their commission with these companies. It is key for agents to increase the rate at which they build new consumer relationships and deepen the ones they have in order to stay top of mind and relevant.

Andrew Flachner: Years ago, brokerages and agents conceded home search to the portals. Today, advanced, broker-powered home search experiences are emerging in ways that strengthen the relationship between agents and clients. We expect these platforms to become table stakes for any real estate professional.

Personalization is the Path Forward

While new technology trends can disrupt how agents currently work, they can also benefit proactive real estate agents. Changes forced by the COVID-19 pandemic have already catalyzed many real estate property tech companies to innovate faster. 

Agents and brokerages should use these new developments to their fullest. For instance, our experts demonstrated how their respective organizations are helping agents personalize and differentiate their services in the modern real estate market. 

Q: What features are you working on to help agents navigate these technology trends happening in the real estate property tech industry?

Chris Heller: OJO Labs is working with agents to provide consumers with an end to end differentiated experience in their home shopping and selling journeys.

Andrew Flachner: Later this year we’re providing a suite of new features designed to help agents and teams to convert and serve not only buyers, but sellers too. For instance, by exposing the buyer demand for listings in a particular market, we’re able to show the impact of COVID-19 on the local real estate market much more quickly than the current best practice of looking at lagging indicators (home sales, pending sales, etc.)

Get the Most out of the Newest Innovations

It’s crucial for agents to have the right tools at their disposal in order to thrive in the digital-first environment. Some tools, such as CRMs, have become mainstays for savvy real estate agents. New real estate tech can host a range of features that benefit agents and buyers. Agents should make sure they’re getting the most out of these products and services. 

Q: Which existing features do you offer that you wish more agents knew about? How can these features make agents more productive?

Chris Heller: Partnering with OJO as a member of our OJO Select Network to assist OJO consumers allows top agents to build their now and future business by supplementing their customer acquisition efforts.

Andrew Flachner: We have a native integration with Zillow and Trulia which makes it easy for agents to ingest leads, replicate property alerts using RealScout, and captivate/convert those leads on their own branded search experience. Some agents have reported lead conversion rate improvements of nearly 100%.

Takeaways: Maximizing Your Effectiveness 

Using technology intelligently is one of the biggest factors that can set real estate agents apart in a crowded market space, and most importantly, provide tremendous value beyond self-serve portals. As always, keep an eye on industry sites like Agent Advice to stay on top of changes in the real estate space  And most importantly – consistently evaluate your own systems and tools – and be sure you’re effectively using data to explain your value proposition and improve your business.