The Challenges and Opportunities for Real Estate in a Digital Age

A big shift in the way we buy property has been coming for a while and that’s only been accelerated by the pandemic. Browsing online for a home is nothing new but the buying process has changed, offering up unique challenges for realtors but also providing a number of opportunities to be early adopters when it comes to video communication and virtual tours.

These services are expected by buyers and sellers alike, and while it’s nice to look at images of a property, people want to be able to delve deeper into what a place has to offer. Whether that’s a live video tour, 360 imagery, or a high-end sales video, the digital part of the buying process is getting longer.

Embracing the latest technology

The technology that enables real estate agents to show homes digitally is nothing new but it’s the realtors who embrace this who will win in a digital age. All technology takes some getting used to, so refining the way you communicate with your customers and how you showcase a beautiful home will take time.

It’s not just the customer-facing technology that can give an agent the edge, though. The data processing capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mean realtors can be as informed as ever about changes to the property market. Whether that AI is matching you with potential buyers, monitoring property prices, or personalizing the way your marketing is delivered, it presents a large opportunity.

In fact, there are already a number of startups using AI to create apps and platforms for realtors to use in the sales process. As well as this technology for realtors, however, homeowners are also using similar apps, which presents a clear challenge for agents who could be replaced by this technology in the future.

Facing the challenges

Many individuals who are selling a property think that simply getting it onto one of the popular listing sites is enough to make it sell. While this might be true in a popular area with high demand, it’s not actually the case for a lot of properties.

It’s important for realtors to make their properties look appealing to an online audience but their work is so much more than that. The personal touch that comes from working with an agent makes the process so much easier for both buyer and seller.

Because a realtor actively works to sell a home, the speed of the sale could be much quicker than simply listing it online and waiting passively for a potential buyer. For millennials who are tech-savvy and willing to list their home online, the human touch is often a forgotten element.

It’s important for real estate agents to communicate the active role they play in helping a property to sell.

Uncovering opportunities

Perhaps the biggest opportunity — in a time when many people have been forced to embrace digital solutions for home, work, and socializing — is a willingness to go digital. Whether a safety concern or just for convenience, a video tour of a property can help usher someone towards a buying decision, making it even easier to land the sale later on in-person. Or perhaps without the need for any in-person interaction at all.

The buyer journey isn’t the only opportunity, however, but it can be difficult for agents to keep up with the latest technologies. It’s worth keeping your ear to the ground for developments in big data analytics (to identify buyer and property trends), smart home technology (that could be a big selling point for buyers), AI and machine learning (to give you more automated insights about your customers or the property market), and apps coming to market that could serve all manner of purposes.

The challenges and opportunities facing realtors are similar across the board whether your focus is on rental or purchase, commercial, or residential.

Staying on top of these is all about looking at your business, how it operates and how it interacts with both buyers and sellers. If you can uncover the needs of the individuals on both sides of the sale, not only will you be able to find the technology to better help you serve them but it’ll lead to more sales, too.

Ask yourself what your customers struggle with. It’s likely a problem you can solve with technology.

  • Do out-of-state buyers hate the back-and-forth travel to find the right home? Live video tours could help narrow down those properties.
  • Do sellers struggle to find buyers who are a good fit for a property? Machine learning software could help better pinpoint the right people to show the property to.
  • Perhaps investors are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice available to them? Your guidance and access to the right software that tracks market trends could make it easier for them to make their next investment.
  • Maybe your customers want to know about the latest properties that interest them but feel bombarded with unsuitable options? Some simple personalization could ensure they only get what’s relevant.

In a way, embracing the digital age is all about going back to basics. The needs of both buyers and sellers might be evolving but they still require the personal touch of a professional. Technology can make a realtor’s life easier but success all comes down to the way you communicate with your customers.

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About the Author: Christie Morgan

I am a former Licensed Real Estate Agent that absolutely loves helping people find the home of their dreams. I also enjoy interior design, reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with my two cats.