Technology and Real Estate – How the Market is Changing
For those who have been involved in real estate for a long time—whether buying, selling, or working within the industry—the face of the business has come quite a long way in the last several decades. Where once you were fully dependent on a real estate agent to show you available listings, and restricted to viewing properties within your physical area, today you can browse properties from the comfort of your couch while you binge-watch Netflix in your sweatpants.
In the 70s and 80s, real estate agents were the only ones with the availability and access to the market listings. Agents were in possession of large binders and books of MLS sheets displaying the pictures and information of each available property. Finding homes took hours of research, instead of a quick click of the button on the search parameters feature.
Today, the internet is the keeper of information and prospective clients have just as much access to the same details and listings as the real estate agent. In fact, it is believed that approximately 43% of those looking to purchase a property begin their venture online long before consulting with a real estate agent.
Technology as a whole has brought a few additional perks to agents in the business. These perks span across every facet of the industry—from buying, selling, marketing, and more.
While websites such as Zillow and Trulia have reduced contact between real estate agents and clients in some cases, they have offered another method for real estate agents to stay in the loop. Agents are able to purchase direct mailing lists and contact information for clients who have reported being interested in listed homes.
These listing sites also offer agents the ability to run advertisements in a location where serious customers will definitely be looking versus spending money on campaigns in places with a less direct impact.
Internet social media has given agents an entirely new marketing platform. Similar to green marketing, social media allows agents to actively reach customers by having friends, family, and clients share statuses, listings, articles, and more. Social media tools such as hashtags give clients an easy way of locating information relevant to their needs by essentially searching for keywords, increasing the efficiency of this form of marketing.
When it comes to finding new customers, the internet has really taken over in marketing methods used by agents. Company websites are approximately 72% of how clients locate an agent, with 66% being social media. Personal agent websites run approximately at 62% with search engine advertising coming in at 42%.
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Virtual Reality in Real Estate:
The internet is not the only game-changer in the industry. The addition of virtual reality to the toolbox of real estate agents has crafted a new method for buying and selling homes. In previous years, to view a property for sale in, let’s say, Texas, you literally had to get on a plane (if you weren’t already in the area) and go see the house personally. Today, the latest technology is bringing properties in Texas right to the door of shoppers in New York. Virtual reality allows shoppers in other states—or even countries—to virtually tour a home from the comfort of their home or office. This new technology, which has been previously reserved for the video gaming industry, has opened the doors to larger-scale investors looking to purchase homes in other locations without having to take time away from their busy schedule to travel. With this option, they can get an up close look at the property they are interested in without having to rely on simple photographs, which can misconstrue the layout or condition of the property.
There are three unique types of virtual reality marketing being utilized in the industry today: Guided Virtual Visit, Interactive Virtual Visit, and Virtual Commerce. Guided Virtual Visits are similar to that of a regular promotional video, however, they are offered in a higher quality and are produced in a 360 degree rotation. Interactive Virtual Visits are close in style to a guided visit, but are reactive to the client’s individual movements. This means the client can explore the home at their own pace and direction. Virtual Commerce is closely related to an Interactive Virtual Visit, but allows the client to make customized changes to the property.
The use of drones in real estate marketing has skyrocketed in recent years. With the influx of listings and agents available to the general public via the internet, it is important for real estate agents to create listings that are both visually appealing and cause them to stand out. Drone photography has helped in this facet, giving a fresh look to listings and website pages. Instead of run of the mill, hand-held camera shots of the home, an agent can utilize a drone to create sweeping videos and bird’s eye views of the property. These extraordinary views often create a more professional appearance and draw clients into their listings—instead of simply being overlooked as they scroll through numerous listings.
Drones are often utilized in conjunction with regular photography and film equipment in creating the virtual reality tours, as well.
For new construction, it used to be difficult for buyers to get an idea of exactly what a property would look like when fully completed. However, today it is much easier for buyers to get a feel for a property, long before the construction crew has worked their magic. With the use of 3D renderings, often paired with virtual reality and drone technology, agents are able to depict a property’s intended appearance onto the bare bones of the property’s framework. This can often help to sell a home prior to its completion date.
Technology has changed the face of the real estate industry drastically over the last few decades and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, the addition of these varied forms of technology seems to have streamlined the process and increased profitability for investors, agents, buyers, and sellers alike.