Considering A Career In Real Estate?
Launching a career in real estate is not for the faint of heart, but for the tech savvy, 2018 could be your year! The ever-improving suite of tools at a real estate professionals' disposal has leveled the playing field between tech-savvy rookies and seasoned veterans. These days, technology has virtually killed the idea that a client needs an agent with years of experience. But let's face it, few rookies, with the exception of the extraordinary, are going to overtake top producers in their first couple of years. However, new agents can certainly benefit by leveraging a nicely branded website, social media, CRM (contact relationship manager), transaction management system, and a few key apps on their smartphone.
These tools serve several purposes, like, keeping agents organized and in touch with their contacts more consistently, reach a broader audience, developing name recognition from initial contact, create a professional image, respond quicker to leads, and gain exposure through a variety of digital platforms. In short, Technology enables new agents to come out of the gate looking like they're smooth, smart, and polished. The end result is that the consumers perception is that of a seasoned real estate professional. In addition, new agents who differentiate themselves as online marketing innovators might very well gain a reputation for understanding the modern buyer. This opens the door to real estate's golden opportunity: listings!
The New Agent Tech Budget
A good rule of thumb for most new agents is to spend no more than up to a quarter of your budget on technology, and allocate 25 to 50 percent at most. So where should this allocated money go first? In the beginning, new agents should use technology to expedite responsibilities in the areas of organization and scheduling and then lead generation. For example, if you fill a database with contacts from your sphere of influence and then utilize a good CRM, the system will shoot off email reminders of which lead to contact and when. The next budget allocation should be social media, followed by a personal website, and lastly, e-signature software.
The social media platforms new agents should be active on are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and to a lesser extent YouTube and twitter. Facebook live is overwhelmingly the live streaming platform of choice for agents, far outranking both Youtube and Instagram.
As far as lead generation goes, agents should be focusing their efforts on the low-hanging fruit, or those contacts who they already have some connection to. The top three lead generation sources are sphere of influence, networking, and finally, referrals. However, don't discount organic relationships such as, door knocking, open houses, expired listings, FSBOs, and cold calls. When considering marketing platforms for lead generation, Facebook was the most highly recommended, coming in at 81%, followed by Realtor.com, Zillow, Google, and then Craigslist.
There are a few additional tools that you may or may not want to consider when allocating your tech budget. To help streamline your transactions, DocuSign, Dotloop, and/or ZipForms, are almost necessary for new agents. Also, some smartphone apps to consider downloading are: a mortgage calculator, a document scanner, NAR's RPR, Realtor.com app, Zillow app, Docusign, Dropbox, Dotloop, and the Navica MLS app.
Where The Brokerage Comes In
Obviously there are many factors to consider when choosing a brokerage. Here we are just focusing on the technology side of what a brokerage has to offer. Historically, franchise real estate brokerages were known for offering more technologies than an independent brokerage, however, that's not the case anymore. So what tech checkboxes should a new agent have on their list before signing with a brokerage? In my opinion, transaction management tech support should be top priority, followed by a CRM and finally, lead generation. Some other useful tools would be photography, marketing materials, continuous training program, and a company website.
Lets focus on the CRM. A CRM (contact relationship manager) is one of the most important tech tools for a new agent's launch. As far as budgeting goes, a good target is to stay under $50/month. Some things to consider when comparing CRMs is good contact organization, an activity manager, marketing automation, and website lead capture functionality. In the end, an agent is only as good as his contacts and the best CRM is the one that you'll actually use.
Final Thoughts Before You Take The Plunge
Rather than going overboard on the latest and greatest, new agents are better off focusing on their specific market, setting a budget and sticking with it, and heeding the advice of their broker and more experienced agents. Agents should never lose site of the value of good mentors, on the job training, and utilizing their sphere of influence. When your ready to introduce technology into your growing real estate business, begin with a budget in mind and carefully consider your options. Limit the time spent with technology to five to seven hours per week. Technology is meant to compliment, not replace!
Good Luck in your real estate endeavours. If our local brokerage can help you in any way, please feel free to contact us with all of you questions.