Faster than fast, Quicker than quick, Ka-chow!

While spending quality time w/ the Cars addict in my family (the 3 year old who says “I wanna see the race car movie Daddy”) got me thinking about something that moves faster than Lightning McQueen, the relentless march of high technology.

A couple weeks ago, Real Central VA, had a link to an interesting NAR Center for REALTOR Technology survey on what agents/brokers plan to spend on technology.

Some of the more interesting findings were

  • 95% of agents use digital cameras
  • 90% of them use cell phones
  • 77% of them use PCs
  • 71% have web business sites
  • 60% of agents have IDX search features on their web site
  • Sites with IDX listings generate more leads than sites without listings.
  • 30% of agents spent more than $2000 on technology in 2005
  • Less than 15% of those participating in lead generation programs are satisfied with the results.
  • 67% of agents want their broker to expand their technology offerings.
  • 84% of agents want the MLS to expand the technology and service offered.
  • Most internet leads come from broker web sites or agent web sites
  • was the 3rd largest source of internet leads
  • The Internet is the third most important source of leads (after referrals and repeat business), it is surprising that the majority of agents spent less than $500 to build or maintain their website, and that a super majority of brokers (67%) spent less than $1,000.

The net take away for me was that agents and brokers have an appetite for technology second only to MindCamp attendees, and yet the vast majority of them probably spend more money at Starbucks in given year than they do on their web sites! Given the importance of internet leads, the effectiveness of broker / agent web sites in capturing them, the disappointing effectiveness of lead generation problems, and appetite for more technology it seems to me that the industry on a whole is seriously under investing in technology. There are exceptions of course, but it seems that real estate tech spending is going to have to trend up. Otherwise the tech leaders around here, both inside & outside the industry (RedFin, John L Scott, CB Bain, Zillow, Trulia, etc) will increasingly make real estate professionals look like real estate amateurs.

So where are your tech dollars going in the next year? How much do you plan on spending? How will technology change how and where you use your marketing budgets? More Zillow, Craigslist, and Google ads, and less paper-based ones?

4 thoughts on “Faster than fast, Quicker than quick, Ka-chow!

  1. Robbie,

    I here you man. Luckily, my managing broker gets it and we base our system on the “hybrid” agent… employing technology to create systems… but also understanding the value of the open house and sales. Too many out there rely on one or the other. For instance, some idiots brag on local blogs how great there position is or SEO results etc… and my wife has sold more real estate then them in the past year… and she is a Registered Nurse without a license! Get it?

    The technology is for leads, responsiveness, efficientcy and credibilty. What you do with the leads… how you close them… well, that’s the greatest part about sales isn’t it? It’s like Jack Lemon telling the “sit” story in Glen Gary, Glen Ross. You have to love closing that lead. But how do you get them?

    What agents have to understand is, technology is not a toy… it’s the tool. How did people find me? How did I get back to them… and with what? I literally have converted several clients because I was the first one to answer their email from my PDA… instantly, with an actual answer. Then they had links to click to my blog with a post from that day… and my face and bio on the company website… They already felt like they knew me. I’ve had two leads, now clients, just email me because they “found me on the Internet”. This was not happening a year ago, but steadily built up with the use of technology and strategy. No snail mail or post cards! All free except Internet service providers!

    Our brokerage works on the company web site to make it a player. We are taught (and now I teach) the agents how to use a blog format and all the free sites out there. They don’t get how big that makes us in our local market.

    I’m an agent with under two years of experience. Yet, I have leads emailing me straight from finding me on the Internet, registering with me on our site, meeting me at open house off my Internet site ads…. I can go on and on. It’s because I use MORE technology than ever in my life and have learned MORE than ever how to manage it. No tricks, just a system of employing the best communication tools at my disposal, at any budget level.

    Pick the tools and use them effectively. It’s the same old story.

    As for leads… with me it’s 1. open houses, 2. Internet, 3. referral
    But, it’s my use of technology and embracing each new twist, that helps me convert leads into clients at a high rate.

    This year I’ll invest in a lap top… so far the PDA/smart phone was sufficient, but with all the organic ads and blogging/commenting I do, I need the lap top this year to use my time more efficiently.

    With a good blog up now for the past year, I will try pay -per -click and track the numbers for the next year.

    Great post… Realtors don’t understand how to use the technology as sybiotic with the old school stuff. I don’t need to tell anyone how responsive I am, trustworty, detailed, “exceed expectations”… I’m back to them so fast with results due to technology, and have so many showings for them (due to religiously utilizing technology)… their head is spinning!

  2. Robbie, one of the things that has always baffled me is the question of which tool is used most frequently, and more specifically, when real estate practitioners ask us to use one form of communication over another, but don’t seem to utilize it on their end. On the surface this seems like a petty thing, but in escrow communication is probably one of the top concerns that we have. Many times we hear from mortgage people or agents as to why they were not informed of a specific matter, to which we reply, “you chose e-mail as your primary preference in contacting you, did you check your e-mail or voice mail?”

    Granted we are on the phones and in front of PC’s all day long and agents and mortgage folks may not be, but they do have access to Blackberry’s and other gadgets that can receive instant messages.

  3. Tim,

    You would always get me either way! Illinois isn’t an escrow agent state, but we certainly need to respond in minutes to keep deals smooth and keep clients bonded.

    I know this statement may be ridiculous, but you can’t be a modern agent and provide top service without a smart phone… I think of all the “old school” agents chatting at lunch or shopping in Paris for the weekend (and they love to tell us where they are traveling) while their client, the mortgage broker, the attorney, the appraiser, the inspector, and the contractor are all trying to contact them… the client doesn’t know they are getting screwed until they are screwed.

  4. Pingback: An ‘07 Resolution: Convey quality | Rain City Guide | A Seattle Real Estate Blog...

Leave a Reply