The work of real estate agents has changed significantly in recent years as a result of new technologies. Many home buyers now start their search online, and new tools help buyers and agents connect and streamline the buying process.
With the arrival of Covid-19, the need to employ real estate tech is even greater. Social distancing and shelter-at-home policies are in place in over 40 states, and businesses need to go digital to survive.
As agents look to real estate tech to keep them in business during the pandemic, many are adjusting their processes and implementing new tools. Making changes such as this signifies a shift in the real estate industry towards the digital sphere that will remain even after Covid-19 is no longer a threat.
Here’s a look at how real estate tech can help agents increase their sales now and post-COVID.
In response to social distancing requirements, agents have been forced to rely exclusively on digital communication tools to connect with their clients. One great way to increase client touchpoints and help generate leads is to use chatbots.
Chatbots are available 24/7, opening up communications with clients beyond the hours that an agent can work. They can answer straightforward questions and provide information like square footage or the number of bedrooms in a listed property.
When clients have this information ahead of time, agents can jump straight into more complex questions and nuanced requests, thus streamlining the buying process.
Many agents are also using tools to manage properties, consolidate client communications, schedule meetings, and share information.
Tools like BackAgent, for example, centralizes team communications into one place to help manage transactions and keep everyone on the same page.
Skyslope is a document management app that creates a digital log of all communications between agents and clients. All of these apps are a necessity now. But continuing to store, track, and analyze interactions using tools like these will help agents better inform clients and fast track their selling timeline after COVID.
Automate homes to minimize social contact
In some places, in-person showings are still permitted, and many buyers want to see a property before purchasing it. For agents holding in-person walk-throughs, it is important to take safety precautions.
One way to minimize social contact is to use a smart lock system to allow clients to see a property without an agent present. Companies like Sentrilock and Prempoint offer networked smart locks that can be opened using Bluetooth.
Using smart lock systems, agents can create one-day codes, track entries and exits, and define “open house” times to control access.
These systems can increase the number of possible showings and add value to the house, making them a worthwhile investment now and in the future.
Virtually show properties
Many agents are holding open houses and walkthroughs virtually, in compliance with local social distancing and shelter-at-home measures. Virtual reality tools like EyeSpy360 allows agents to create free virtual tours for a full understanding of the property. Using virtual reality, agents can even show properties that aren’t finished with construction yet.
The SmarterListings platform offers an AI-powered guide that stands in for the agent, taking clients on a virtual tour of the property, pointing out key features, and recording questions and commentary. Using SmarterListings, agents can increase the number of showings and follow up with clients after the walkthrough for the next steps.
With so many people stuck at home, time spent on social media has increased by 20%. Marketing and advertising tools can help agents get in front of their target audience and generate more leads.
CRMs, for example, gathers contact information and track activity to provide agents with lead insights. By automating tasks like tracking and scheduling follow-ups, agents have more time to cultivate relationships with potential clients. Data insights also help agents understand the buyer journey and lead profiles so they can improve their processes and better serve their clients.
Process deals online
Whether working in person or online, privacy is essential when handling contracts and payments. It is vital that agents use tools with the appropriate encryption and security measures in place to handle contracts and payments digitally during COVID times.
To control data and manage contracts, DocuSign is a popular digital option used in millions of real estate transactions. With DocuSign, agents send buyers a link to the contract, which they can open on any device. The client then follows the instructions provided to create an electronic signature and sign the document. Once they’ve finished, the agent can also access the saved signed version.
To track the entire settlement process, tools like Qualia come in handy. This software lets buyers, agents, and lenders monitor closing status and investments, making the closing process more transparent, streamlined, and secure.
Adapting to digital-first interactions
COVID-19 has caused companies across industries to adapt quickly to a new business environment. In particular, this rapid shift has forced businesses to become more digital, and experts predict that post-COVID many will continue distributed operations on a large scale.
For real estate agents, new technology is helping them stay afloat in the short term as well as automate tasks, increase their output, and generate sales in the long term.
Image Credit: Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash
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