An increasingly competitive marketplace is ramping up the
pressure on real estate firms to improve the speed and efficiency of their
operations. In response, firms are investing in new technology to incorporate
modern approaches to their business model that all carry their own elements of
From targeting prospects and customer lifecycle management to productivity
methods and brokerage services, we explore the risks associated with these
current and future processes.
While the traditional real estate lead generation method consists of a file of
client names and contact details gathered at a recent open house, real estate
professionals now have numerous options to help obtain leads, via third party
integration and Internet Database Exchange [IDX] integration. It is important
to ensure that the entity supplying leads has the legal authority to do so.
Real estate professionals can be sued if a vendor is using descriptions and
photos of homes on a multiple listing service [MLS] or information from a
database without proper permissions.
Facebook and other social media platforms are continuously growing tools used
by real estate agents to obtain leads, but due care and responsibility is
imperative as any derogatory comments about a property, location or agent can
come back to bite. For example, an agent saw a Facebook post that described a
property as the, “nicest on the block,” and responded by leaving a comment
saying the property is, “the nicest on a block that needs to be torn down.” When
the home did not sell, the listing agent and seller filed a lawsuit against the
commenting agent for interference with the sale as well as defamation.
Home buyers today do not look like homebuyers of 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Nearly
40% of current homebuyers are tech and social media savvy millennials – those
born between 1980 and 1998. From this group, many would have grown up watching
home improvement TV shows while sharing their lives on Facebook and other
social media platforms; therefore, in order to reach this fast growing market,
a brokerage must have a robust internet and social media presence. However,
simply having a social media profile is not sufficient in engaging most
millennials – you need to give them something they desire e.g. when describing
a listing, make sure to include information around neighborhood details such as
local greenspace, restaurants, bars and gyms.
Baby Boomers and Generation X comprise the other end of the market. While Baby
Boomers, now in their late 50s to early 70s, are likely to be looking to
downsize and/or looking for a retirement community, Generation X-ers, now in
their early 40s to mid-50s, could be thinking about a vacation home and/or
downsizing. Real estate agents must have a plan to target these groups through
appropriate marketing channels that are both appealing and familiar to them
e.g. while direct mail or simple email marketing will resonate with Baby
Boomers, Generation X-ers should be comfortable with digital marketing and
In years gone by, a productive real estate agent had a fax machine in their
car. Today, productive agents have both phones and tablets, but it’s how they
use them that can make the difference.
Keys to improving productivity include:
sync data on your phone, tablet and computer and use cloud based tools such as
Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps that allow you to access your data on any
device, any time. Risks arise if your data is scattered across numerous
Find a tool that easily tracks all correspondence whether internally with
colleagues or externally with clients and prospects. Ensure correspondence
records are synced and safely stored across all devices – proper documentation
reduces the chance of disputes and makes defending claims easier.
Many automated marketing tools now exist – find one that works for you and use
it effectively. To reduce risk, be sure to obtain authorization to publish
photos and videos and carefully review any content before it is
Your Business – Use cloud based file sharing and storage applications
such as Dropbox to share information with colleagues and clients. Applications
like DocuSign enable easy and secure electronic signatures, providing more time
to focus on other tasks.
Print advertising, direct mail campaigns and other traditional marketing
methods remain effective, but in today’s real estate market, digital marketing
is key. Millennials grew up in the digital age and they expect to see
organizations online and on social media platforms. However, simply having a
social media account is not sufficient – it needs to be active and posts should
be impactful and display clear benefits to your audience. Millennials typically
carry out much of their home purchasing research on their mobile phones and
only contact a real estate agent when ready to view a specific property.
Promote yourself as a go-to resource for the millennial buyer – not just
somebody who will open the door for them, but somebody who will inform them
about the trendy tapas restaurant nearby or the local boutique coffee
In real estate, lifecycle management used to mean the lifecycle of a current
sales transaction. If you were lucky and provided good service, the client you
helped purchase a home would remember you years later when it came to selling
their home. Fast forward to 2020 and lifecycle management can mean years of
digital marketing and being a go-to resource for clients on a number of topics.
Yet, stepping into other roles by offering services you are not qualified or
licensed to perform carries various risks. Agents are typically not appraisers,
lawyers, home inspectors, mortgage bankers or moving coordinators, therefore it
is safer to help clients seek out a professional to fulfil these services.
The latest trends in real estate learning are not how to interpret page 23 of
the new state association sales contract or how to sell vacation homes, but how
to use big data and predictive modelling. Data about people and locations has
never been more available, and capturing this information and utilizing it
effectively is key to successfully growing your real estate business. Big data
and predictive modelling can identify highly qualified leads and potential home
sellers before they have even decided to sell.
For example, a couple in their mid to late 50s whose youngest
child is entering their senior year in college might not be thinking about
downsizing, but with this information, a predictive model could suggest that
this couple will be ready to move in 18 months. Predictive models can also
forecast where this couple might want to relocate to – perhaps they vacation in
the mountains each year or maybe the beach? Real estate brokerages that utilize
big data and predictive modelling will have an advantage in the marketplace.
Again, liability risks can arise when using such tools, such as privacy,
redlining and discrimination, so you must ensure each potential client is