Technology has woven itself into every corner of our lives: friendships, banking, relationships, security, ours, you name it. It was only a matter of time before technology became an integral part of the real estate industry.
As a slow to evolve industry, real estate is finally coming to terms with the role of tech…. Or so it seems. This past year, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tech is crucial for real estate professionals to do their jobs. In reaction, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its 2021 Real Estate in a Digital Age Report showing just how large of a role it’s playing in the buying and selling of homes. Below, we break down some of the report’s most pertinent findings.
Technology is playing a more important role than ever
Matt Christopherson, one of the Research Analysts behind the report, states “With constant innovations and improvements in tech, one can either fall behind or stay competitive by keeping up with trends.” Christopherson hits on an important point within the industry — brokerages, and real estate professionals in general, must adopt technology or risk dying off. Compared to the last report in 2019, professionals and home buyers and sellers are using more tech than ever, especially Internet search, esignatures virtual communication.
Technology is a challenge for most brokerages
One data point that says a lot about itself is home buyers’ reliance on the Internet. The report found that nearly 100% of all homebuyers used the Internet in their home search. With this heavy usage, it’s indicative of the Internet in the future of real estate. On the flip side, this same tool is seen as a threat to many brokerage firms. According to the report, keeping up with technology is seen as a challenge to 41% of firms in the industry. In addition, 30% found competition from new virtual firms and 47% noted competition from nontraditional market participants as the biggest challenge faced in the next two years.
Social media has a firm future in the industry
Even with all of the critics, social media has stood its ground in this industry. One of the most important findings from the report states that social media is the top lead-generating tech tool available: 52% of realtors report that it’s the tech tool that provides the highest-quality leads followed by CRM and the MLS site. 90 percent of realtors use Facebook, while nearly half use both Instagram and LinkedIn.
One of the most underused social media sites currently is TikTok with just 5% of realtors reporting usage. However, TikTok might have the biggest upside as it has a large majority of millennials and future homebuyers, Gen Z, and many real estate agents have found incredible success on the platform. With that being said, respondents noted social media as being the second most likely tool to be used in the next year.
Realtors need additional tech tools than what firms currently provide
Amongst all software tools, firms mostly encourage e-signature (83%), comparative market analysis (82%) and electronic contracts/forms (80%). First of all, it’s easy to see the pandemic’s impact on the push to use electronic contracts/forms and e-signature technology (it will be hard going back to in-person closings!). However, this is also a good sign for many brokerages as realtors also report that electronic contracts/forms and e-signature tech make up two of the three most used software tools on a daily basis. For the most part, brokerages are seeming to provide realtors with their most used tools. Yet, brokerages are missing the mark on additional tech tools as respondents report that they still desire tools including cyber security, lead generation, eNotary, CRM, a personal website, predictive analytics, virtual tours, and showing/open house software.
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