Emerging Tech Session

SAN FRANCISCO (November 10, 2019) – A variety of the latest and most trendy tech tools in real estate were discussed Saturday afternoon as tech savvy leaders took stage at the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, California.

The National Association of Realtors®' session, aptly titled "Emerging Business & Technology Forum: Tech Tools for Today & Tomorrow," dove into instruments such as virtual walkthroughs, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. These features and apps, the presenters explained, are invaluable to home sellers, home buyers, agents and essentially any party or individual involved in a real estate transaction.

"How will sellers know which renovations will actually increase the value of the home? Who will find, vet and hire the contractors?" Rikki Rogers rhetorically asked. Rogers is vice president of marketing for Curbio, a presale renovation technology startup company.

Curbio – working only with clients who have already hired an agent – remodels houses before they go on the market, using technology to simplify the selling process while providing virtual estimates and automated communications. The firm ensures buyers are given a finished, turnkey product and sellers are able to maximize their time and receive a higher offer on their home.

"Homeowners lose an average of $28 billion every year by selling their homes in less than ideal condition to investors, wholesalers, flippers and bargain hunters," said Rogers, who in August was named Pitch Battle winner at NAR's 2019 Innovation, Opportunity & Investment Summit. The company's technology platform, plus the pay-at-closing model, eliminates roadblocks to pre-sale renovation, according to Rogers.

"You and your seller don't have to step foot in a store. You never have to visit a showroom," she said. "This means agents can worry about selling homes, not renovations."

Bob Stewart, chief evangelist of Brivity, summarized the importance of customer relationship management, or CRM. The Brivity CRM can automatically route and notify agents when a lead is identified. 

Stewart says a bot responds to leads based on a specific source, intent, price or location, using information that is already within the Brivity database. Every client lead is sent a short text message or email instantly, essentially working to multiply an agent's conversion rates.

 "We know we're likely to get a response if we reply in the first five minutes, as opposed to the next five minutes," Stewart said.

Citing statics from NAR's Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, Stewart said Brivity works toward responding immediately to potential clients. "We know from a NAR report that clients generally work with the first agent they speak with, so we have to be aggressive with them to make sure that's us."

Stewart says that as it progresses, the CRM will get smarter, and will be a storehouse for information on clients and prospects. "You're always in a battle to add another piece of information to your database, because every day, it shrinks. Every day someone is changing their number, email address or they're moving."

Jerome Levadoux, group vice president at DocuSign, spoke about the numerous ways DocuSign has expedited real estate transactions, making it so home buyers, sellers, bankers and others can sign important documents using an eSignature.

In the process of conducting a housing or property transaction, in-person signatures alone could take days or weeks or more to obtain. "In the real estate market, DocuSign eliminates the need to get a printout, and the need to walk documents around from person to person," he said.

While the eSignature is instrumental in the life of Realtors®, especially those who work globally, Levadoux notes that there are many other steps beyond the signing portion and says DocuSign is useful in those areas, too.

"There is no way for many people to see the same doc, at the same time," he said, referring to transactions involving numerous people in different locations.  

Levadoux said going forward users can expect DocuSign to improve.

"We have taken the first step of using AI. It's in pilot," he said, referring to an artificial intelligence component being tested by his company. "So you won't have to do the tedious steps of filling out each line, and it will look for mistakes and errors before you send your document to customers."

Also being tested, according to Levadoux, is a DocuSign notary feature. In the future, agents will be able to use a camera to notarize documents and quickly move the transaction to its next step, he said.

The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.