3 Technology Habits You Should Kick

With new tools changing the real estate landscape quickly, here are some things you can do to adapt.

New technological advancements in real estate are piling up, making your habits grow old much faster. These cautionary tales from the plugged-in crowd at Inman Connect this year reveal ideas and practices that practitioners should ditch as they move toward a more connected world.

Favoring Traditional Listings Over an Interactive Experience

Consumers are demanding a more dynamic experience while searching for homes online, but many real estate companies aren’t offering 3-D listings because they fear the impact the technology could have on the role of the agent, says Marc Haguenauer, CEO of Vieweet, a company offering tools to shoot 3-D video and virtual reality. “Brokers fear that if you’re using virtual tours as a marketing device, you’re giving away too much information right away and losing leads,” he says.

The idea that the enhanced detail of 3-D listings takes away from the importance of an agent is a fallacy, says Mark Tepper, vice president of sales and business development for 3-D camera maker Matterport. He says richer listing detail gives international buyers and those who can’t be there in person to see the property a reason to call. “What it will do is bring you better-qualified buyers and open you up to a global market,” Tepper says.

Up next is virtual reality, whereby real estate pros can create a virtual world inside a home. Though the technology is still evolving, Tepper says 3-D will help usher virtual reality into everyday marketing tasks. So it’s important to get a handle on 3-D now so you’re ready for what’s coming next.

Outsourcing Technology Education to Vendors

Brokers often seek out vendors for training on new technology platforms, but it’s time to rethink that strategy. “We have so many tech tools available, but adoption is a challenge because of the broad demographic of our agents,” says Dina Di Maria, senior vice president of information technology for NRT, a residential brokerage whose brands include Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, and ZipRealty. “Vendors can’t necessarily speak to that. Get a top agent who’s actually using it to speak to other agents about how they use it.”

John De Souza, president of Cressy & Everett Real Estate in South Bend, Ind., says the more essential a tool is to your business, the more you need to rely on in-house training. For example, “there are a lot of fancy CRMs that don’t get used because they don’t match the agents,” he says. “Provide online learning, classroom learning, one-on-one coaching — provide training at the agent’s level.”

There’s also the question of whether to outsource technology services. De Souza says his company has handed their e-mail servers and accounting software to outside companies to mitigate data-security risks. “But you need to make sure you can talk to vendors comfortably,” he says. “Put them on the spot and share your concerns, and talk to other companies about what troubles and regrets they have. Don’t let vendors get away with too much.”

Following the Crowd Toward Drones

Drones can bring a Hollywood-esque quality to property photos and videos, but does that mean you should be flying one yourself? There are more than 3,000 drone operators in the U.S., many of whom have received an exemption from the Federal Aviation Authority for commercial use. Some of them are real estate professionals. The FAA is expected to release final rules around the commercial use of drones in June.

But Matthew Leone, senior vice president of digital marketing at Halstead Properties in New York, says that even after the coast is clear for all commercial drones, individual agents shouldn’t rush out to get one. Though drones are evolving to incorporate more safety features, including positioning technology that allows them to avoid no-fly zones and guards for helicopter blades, you should leave it to the professionals to shoot your drone footage. Drone website sUASNews.com has a map of drone operators in the U.S. — there are some in every state — along with their expertise and contact info. “Call them up and use them,” Leone says.