The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted the real estate industry. Agents have had to keep up with new in-person safety protocols, market changes, and consumer fears. As we settle into a “new normal,” real estate agents have to rely more heavily on technology to meet client needs.
New technologies have come to market, and others have increased in importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, technology can be a challenge for many agents: Nearly half of all real estate firms say keeping up with technology is one of the most significant challenges they face over the next two years, according to National Association of REALTORS® data.
To help wade through your options for tech solutions, consider the essential tools you’ll need to navigate this new real estate landscape. These six technologies allow any agent to thrive and find success.
- Social media technologies. The top four technology tools real estate professionals turn to for generating high-quality leads are social media (47%), MLS site (32%), brokerage’s website (29%), and list aggregator site (29%), according to NAR. Creating engaging content is one piece of the social media puzzle. Another piece is using social media schedulers to push out consistent content to followers. Social media is relatively easy to automate, so use a scheduler that’s simple and intuitive. But don’t forget to engage. Add leads you get through social media to your CRM so they don’t go stale.
- 3D virtual tours. This technology is especially useful for buyers who may want to avoid seeing multiple properties in person. They can view the 3D virtual tour and then decide whether the property deserves an in-person visit. This cuts down on property showings, too. If listing photos don’t do the property justice, 3D virtual tours can add greater detail and pique buyer interest. Drone footage used in virtual tours can highlight unique features of properties and potentially excite buyers more.
- Virtual staging tools. Staging makes a difference when selling a property. Eighty-three percent of buyer’s agents say staging a home makes it easier for buyers to visualize living there, according to NAR’s 2019 Profile of Home Staging. But the task has become more difficult due to the industry’s COVID-19 guidelines. Still, buyers need help imagining how to use spaces. Virtual staging tools take the expertise of architects and technologies such as 3D Max, Photoshop, and 3D virtual staging software to show how a buyer can use a space. This is especially helpful for vacant properties.
- Transaction management software. In-person contract signings are becoming obsolete, and this is especially true during the pandemic. No one wants to unnecessarily come into contact with others, which has made transaction management technology even more critical. DocuSign—a REALTOR Benefits® Program partner—dotloop, and RealPage IMS are popular transaction management solutions. (Through Jan. 31, members can sign up for a three-month free trial of DocuSign under NAR’s Right Tools, Right Now program.) The need for transaction management software will only increase given social distancing guidelines.
- CRM. A robust CRM system will help you keep track of leads as they move through the sales funnel. Many agents already use a CRM, but disruptive new systems have made lead-tracking even more manageable. Look for a system that integrates with social media, since leads from social networks will only increase. A CRM that can verify leads also will help you stay aware of real prospects who need follow-ups and touchpoints. Don’t just settle for the CRM you already have if it’s not working for you. Find one that works with all real estate needs.
- Email automation tools. Many agents use some sort of email automation to send buyers new listings. Email automation tools can do much more than that. Using this software, you can stay in touch with past clients, which will put you top of mind regarding referrals. You can segment lists and inform past clients about neighborhood happenings, send them seasonal greetings, and more. It’s too time-consuming to do this manually, so use software to set and forget follow-up emails.