Real estate is an industry of continual change. Four real estate experts talk about what to expect in the future and how to leverage your marketing, strategy, and technology to achieve more success.
Director of Member Engagement, National Association of REALTORS®
REALTORS® and brokerages need to shift from generating leads to nurturing those leads. They need to build trust and rapport online to get in front of people offline.
Nurturing leads is not about business today. It’s about curating business for tomorrow and attracting those eyes online right now. You need to be thinking one or two business cycles ahead.
Brokers know this when they’re talking to new agents: It’s about knowing that who you meet today may not pay off today. But you want to make sure that you position yourself to get the payoff when a prospect is ready.
Most agent and broker marketing is the same, measuring clicks on ads, on websites, and in newsletters. You have to think like these disruptors that we keep talking about. Those disruptors think like a media company.
You can do this by conveying your expertise in short bursts of information that people are accustomed to. This isn’t a generational thing; it’s a time thing in that no one’s got any to spare. So, you want to give people short bursts of information when they want it, how they want it.
REALTORS® in Texas need to embrace the many types of brokerage models that consumers have access to in your state. Stress what humans bring to the table. Emphasize what you can do that technology can’t. Build trust and do all the other stuff that’s different from what technology companies and portals can do.
Founder & CEO, Real Estate Grad School
When people start panicking about things changing in real estate, I remind them that many parts of the business haven’t changed much. Buyers still want to see houses before they buy them. They still make offers. We may not write the offer by hand, but that offer looks a whole lot like every other offer that’s been written for the past 50 years.
What has changed completely is where buyers come from. When I speak, I ask the audience to write down where their last three sales came from.
Ten years ago, the number one source for 60% of audience members was sphere of influence. The second source was traditional advertising—somebody calling from an ad, calling from the sign, stopping by an open house.
Today, the first source hasn’t changed—it’s still sphere of influence. But advertising is gone. Now it’s internet leads. But it’s just another medium. You have to go where the potential clients are, and they’re not reading newspapers anymore.
A top broker may have 60% of his business from sphere of influence referrals, and now he’s got 7% to 10% of business from his reputation. In the old days, reputation was personal. It was the people who knew you. But now it is his online reputation—reviews on websites and social media channels.
I don’t think that percentage will change too much. Most people are going to work with an agent they know and trust or who has been referred to them by someone they know and trust.
If you’re not building through your sphere of influence, other agents who are building their teams and reputation bigger than yours will get potential clients who might’ve come to you.
Commission models have changed. Now you can pay basically a flat fee to a brokerage and receive 100% of commissions. You can build a team and make more money staying under the umbrella of a large brokerage than you would starting your own company.
Those changes aren’t going away. There are new players backed by venture capital—that means they don’t have to be profitable right away like a normal broker. They’ve built a lot of technology into their companies to help agents do business more efficiently.
Those models are the ones to watch, to see how they work in the future and what they mean to the industry.
Principal, The WAV Group
To stay relevant, agents need to use some form of client-relationship management technology. Sometimes agents have this feeling that technology is hard. Why would they do it if their process works just fine and they have the business they need? They are complacent, fearful, or both.
But to make it in the future, you’ve got to provide the service that’s worth your commission. That’s the bottom line.
You can’t just get leads from Zillow or realtor.com and watch them turn into dollar bills. It doesn’t happen like that. It takes work to move somebody from prospect to client. Leveraging technology like client-relationship management software can make that process easier.
If you set up your customer-relationship management software correctly, you put prospects into the system and the system helps you stay in front of them until they’re ready to talk to you. It will send property alerts or information about how the local market is performing. It will send information about qualifying for a mortgage.
Let’s say you have 350 clients in your database, and you’re working actively with five of those. The tool helps you stay in contact with the 345 other clients while you spend the bulk of your time with the five who are active.
A lot of people think, “Oh, I’m just too scattered. I can’t do it.” You have to wrap your arms around the idea that you can become more organized and technology can help you.
Companies using these systems fully are doing more business. It’s not a shiny object. You can create a consistent method for acquiring prospects and maintaining relationships with them for the long haul.
There isn’t a technology that’s going to replace old-fashioned prospecting and relationship-building. Nothing’s going to do that. But it helps you manage all of those balls in the air.
We all promise things every day when we’re out in the world—“I’ll get that for you,” “I’ll circle back with you,” “Let me fix that for you.” A customer-relationship management software—basically, a “customer for life” program—helps you keep those promises and keeps people in your sphere in front of you.
It does take commitment. Setting up one of these things is not fun. But once you do it, if you are serious about your business and if you are committed to being in this business for the long haul, you will see the difference.
Professor of Real Estate, University of North Texas
I’m so excited about Texas in the next 10 years. I’m so excited about real estate investments. Texas is now what California was in 1955. We are going to double the population within 15 years … all the people that are coming from California, New Jersey, New York, and Florida … and REALTORS® need to be ambassadors for Texas; be excited that they’re coming.
Corporations are making their decision to come here for so many reasons. We have no state income tax. We’re in the Central time zone. Employees can make a call at 7 a.m. to New York and at 6 p.m. to California. It splits the country in two. It costs less money to fly to the coasts.
We’re a port state. We’re a standalone oil and gas state—we’re exporting oil and gas. Our climate is great. We can build our buildings cheaper and have nearly unlimited land. Our housing is affordable.
Some REALTORS® will say, “Things aren’t selling well in my part of Texas.” Well that’s because people who are living in their houses realize what’s about to happen, and they’re not going to move.
More people in Texas are staying put because they realize what’s coming. The value of our houses is going to double. Even if they go up 7% a year, they double every 10 years.
We are the center of commerce in the world, not just the United States. This is serious stuff, and it’s part of a REALTOR®’s job to be a cheerleader for Texas.
Another part of a REALTOR®’s job is to inform consumers of what they might be missing. And what a lot of consumers are missing right now is this dynamite market that we’re going to have for 20 years in Texas, and what house prices and rents are going to do.
REALTORS® should be encouraging people to buy rental houses. REALTORS® need to have faith in the future, the staying power that Texas is going to have. They need to believe what they’re selling.
I’m telling you that there is no better investment for retirement or for savings than to buy a median or below-median price house less than 15 years old in Texas and own it forever.
REALTORS® need to put on seminars for buyers and investors. They need to know what the new tax law implications are going to be for buyers.