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|VG Tuesday Tips: From AI to the Business Phone - Top 5 Trends for Real Estate Companies to Know|
|Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:00:34 AM|
The real estate industry moves faster than most people think. Sure, a property is a property, but the way people buy and sell it changes.
Tech is one of the primary driving forces for real estate industry trends, and it's transformed the landscape in the last few years. From advanced business phones for real estate companies to better client service through machine learning, here are the five key advancements determine who thrives versus who gets left behind.
1. AI is Here to Stay
When people hear the terms "artificial intelligence" (AI) and "machine learning," they usually think of high-tech computing before real estate. It's hard for those outside the industry to see the inner workings of AI in how people find, buy, and sell property, but the results speak for themselves.
AI allows real estate companies and systems to use data to their advantage. Now that 97% of buyers use the internet to search for homes and 30% or more are open to the idea of buying and selling online, there's more data out there than ever before. AI lets savvy real estate companies use that data to their advantage.
Thanks to the rise of AI-powered algorithms, real estate companies can suggest properties to potential clients based on search behaviors.
In the past, systems relied on the buyer to narrow their search by answering questions about price, square footage, number of bedrooms, etc. Now, AI can analyze the person's search patterns and compare those searches to those from similar buyers. The result is a more accurate listings match that keeps buyers engaged, connected, and coming back for more.
To succeed in today's competitive real estate market, companies have to be able to separate truly interested buyers from those that are just "window-shopping." Industry-leading programs like Zillow's Premium Broker Flex can now use AI algorithms — similar to those that match people with properties — to identify shoppers who are ready to speak with an agent.
This technology lets you reduce the amount of time that agents spend reaching out to casual shoppers. It also helps make those first-contact moments more productive, since agents can refer to what the system has told them about a potential buyer.
AI can also use property data to predict the current value and its value in the coming years. By analyzing market trends, demographic data, and more, evolving AI-based systems can give buyers more confidence in their investments.
2. The Future is Cloud-Based
According to cloud services provider RapidScale, 80% of top real estate performers are already using some form of cloud technology.
Cloud services store data on a remote server instead of locally. Real estate companies and agents can then access and share that data anytime, from anywhere. In an industry that's always on the go, it's a way to provide better service and improve overall efficiency.
According to an adoption study by HubSpot and REAL Trends, almost three-quarters of polled agents use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to organize client data. As CRM systems shift to the cloud, real estate companies will have an easier time transferring buyer and seller data between the office and the field.
The cloud also helps real estate agents to answer client questions when they're nowhere near their home computers. Agents can simply into databases and find property details, financial information, and more.
The cloud also allows companies like yours to quickly send documents back and forth, using systems like G Suite or Office 365. Instead of having to go back to the office to save and send files, your agents can complete these processes anywhere there's an internet connection. Using the cloud makes it much easier and faster to adjust offers, update contracts, and prepare agreements.
The transition to digital may have reduced the volume of literal paper that gets shuffled between real estate offices, but the amount of documentation hasn't decreased. The challenge now is to find cost-effective and secure ways of storing the documents you need to save.
The cloud does this better than most in-house systems ever could. Cloud storage systems are incredibly scalable, so you can acquire more storage as needed without investing in expensive hardware. Additionally, because cloud providers are in the business of data, they can implement advanced security infrastructure that would be too costly for the average real estate company.
3. Virtual Showings and Open Houses Are on the Rise
As video conferencing and other virtual interactions become more pervasive, the real estate world is adopting virtual showings and open houses. It's more popular than the now-common 360-degree home tour, which lets home buyers click around to view different parts of a property from different angles.
A virtual showing or open house is a live event, except that the buyer isn't at the property with the agent. For a virtual showing, the buyer meets the agent on a unified video conferencing platform like Dialpad's UberConference. The agent walks the buyer through the house and takes any questions the buyer might have.
Virtual open houses are similar, except that the agent presents to an entire group of potential buyers. A common practice is for the agent to walk through the property live, then take questions at the end.
These kinds of events exploded in popularity in 2020, helping people become more familiar and comfortable with the process. In a Boston-based survey, 94% of respondents expressed willingness to take a virtual tour, while 28% said they'd consider buying a house entirely virtually.
With virtual showings and open houses, buyers don't need to leave their home or office and travel to a property. They can view more places in the same amount of time, all with less disruption to their day-to-day lives. If you can offer that selling point, you can attract more convenience-minded buyers.
The rise of virtual touring also expands a real estate company's potential audience. If a buyer in New York wants to move to Chicago, they'll be better served by a company that won't require them to board a plane to view properties. For this reason alone, virtual tours can make your company more competitive.
When you host an in-person tour, visitors can easily slip through the cracks, peeking around the home without ever signing in or sharing their information. Virtual tours make it easier to require email addresses from attendees who want to tour a home.
You can use those email addresses to follow up with potential buyers afterward. It's even possible to use records of the call to sort visitors into different follow-up groups based on interest levels. For example, you might send one more detailed message to visitors who asked questions and another more general follow-up to your passive attendees.
4. Tracked and Transcribed Conversations Drive Sales Success
Communication is the heart of real estate service. It's critical to the success of any transaction, and much of it happens over the phone. It's a highly personal industry that relies on in-depth conversations about needs, wants, and values. Text is fine for logistics, and email is useful for sending documents, but in the end, nothing beats a phone call for the conversations that matter.
A business phone used to be disconnected from the rest of a real estate company's communications systems, but digitization has changed all of that. Now, cloud-based voice systems provide automated transcriptions that are easy to read and search. Many also offer call tracking. This more advanced technology goes in-depth to highlight essential call elements, alert you to customer needs, and inform next steps.
Hyper-personalized customer service is becoming standard practice in all industries. More than 90% of customers now prefer to buy from companies that remember their preferences and offer personalized recommendations. These expectations are making their way into the real estate world, driving companies and agents to enter the world of omnichannel.
Omnichannel means offering a seamless experience, no matter how a customer chooses to interact with a company. In real estate, it means remembering what was said on a call, then incorporating that knowledge into an email. It means tracking what a buyer has asked you to do and following through without needing them to remind you. Call tracking and transcription make this possible. With transcriptions, accuracy is vital. It can be the difference between spelling the client's name correctly or incorrectly or capturing if the client wanted 2 or 2.5 baths.
Dialpad's call transcription model has surpassed the largest competitors, including Google's enhanced telephony model, for both keyword and general accuracy. With accurate transcriptions, you never have to worry about following up to confirm something or taking notes during the call.
Having an accurate call transcript means that you can go back and find out what a client asked for or identify the preferences that they expressed. You don't have to ask the client to repeat themselves, and they don't have to call to remind you.
Tracking goes a step further. Call tracking technologies can pull out action items, so even if you don't remember what a client said during a call, your phone system can remind you. Call tracking can also highlight specific words, like "showing" or "price range," and flag positive or negative sentiments. For busy real estate agents and teams, this can make the difference between fixing an issue before it happens and losing a client who thinks you weren't listening.
5. Secure Communications Is the Gold Standard
Real estate has always been about accessibility, responsiveness, and trust. Now that companies are more connected than ever before, security and privacy have become a vital part of the mix.
A 2020 survey revealed that more than eight out of 10 people wouldn't do business with a company if they think their data isn't secure. Real estate clients share confidential information such as family and financial data, and they need to know that it's safe with their agents.
Fortunately, business phone options for real estate companies now include voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems, which send calling data over secure internet channels. Because VoIP systems like Dialpad are fully digital, they can provide a level of encryption and reliability that analog phone systems can't.
These systems also use advanced encryption to protect call recordings and transcripts, so all data related to phone conversations are kept safe. The future will see an increased reliance on these systems and similar security applied to other communication channels like email and document sharing.
Security needs to be just as tight for multi-person teams. That's why many companies are turning to communications systems that offer role-based access to client data. Role-based access means that a team leader can determine who can see which client's data. Information becomes available on a need-to-know basis, and no one without authorization can view a client's personal information.
With a role-based system, it's easier for clients to communicate with your company. They can say something once and know that the information will be available to anyone who needs to know — and only those who need to know.
How to Stay Ahead of the Game
As technology advances, you can expect to see improved access to things like AI, cloud computing, and VoIP calling. As these technologies become more standard, clients will start to get used to that higher service level. Real estate companies will need to step up their game and adopt those advanced tools to stay competitive.
You can keep your company a step ahead by choosing modern technology whenever you can. Seek out service providers like Dialpad that offer unified cloud features like call tracking, transcription, and advanced security as standard elements of its business phone for real estate companies.
Look for opportunities to offer advanced services like virtual open houses and personalized recommendations. The sooner you can get on board with these services, the more you'll stand out from the crowd and showcase your company as an industry leader. Additionally, be flexible and agile in the way you structure your communications systems. Business tech moves incredibly fast, and you want to be ready for quick adoption.
Finally, always opt for scalability. Whenever you have the opportunity to adopt a new kind of tech — from a real estate business phone system to advanced AI — make sure the tool you use will grow with you. In the 21st-century real estate landscape, that's the key to survival.
To learn more about how Dialpad's AI-powered cloud communications platform can make a difference in your day-to-day, check out our resources for real estate.