This news article came into my email today, about the “Real Estate Agent of the Future”. Like a lot of the drivel fed to Realtors, this story is a jargon-filled write-up of nothingness, but it did get me thinking about how much things actually do stay the same, with regard to relationships, no matter the technology.
via Realtor Newsletter
The Real Estate Agent of the Future
Asked what skills future realty agents will need to compete, Saul Klein–president and CEO of InternetCrusade and CEO of Point2Technologies–cites product knowledge, sales competency, access to customers, and service with integrity.
More specifically, he says an agent working in 2015 will need the ability to communicate effectively across generational spans as the different age groups move up and out.
Uh, that sounds like the Realtor of 1908, 2009 and all years in between. But I wonder what sort of class we need to take to learn how to “communicate effectively across generational spans”. Communication skills for an agent depend more on recognizing which of the four main personality types a person possesses than how old they are.
This generational stuff sounds good, but in practice, one’s generation tells us less about what makes them tick than does their personality type. We work with slow, plodding, careful detail oriented people in the same patient and detail oriented way whether they are 28 years old or 68 years old. Those buyers really are the same, trust me. And the excitable, exuberant buyers who love everything they see and can’t decide which home is the right one for them?… they come in all generations too, including married grandmas and young single dudes with earrings.
An agent who can listen to you, understand your motivations and “get” what makes you tick will be of far greater value in helping you than one who makes trendy assumptions based on nothing more than your age.
Another key skill of the future, he says, will be the ability to negotiate successfully. To increase access to clients, the Realtor of the future will need to be technology-oriented.
Prospecting and marketing will have become automated, says Klein, and client management and online transaction management software will become more important.
Negotiation skills have always been important, and always will. No news there. Being technology oriented? I won’t argue with that, but many non-techie agents do well by simply surrounding themselves with knowledgeable help. I know one that doesn’t even check his own email but instead delegates it to his assistant. He’s a top producer and I bet he can’t burn a CD or send a text message. For some agents, knowing how to leverage the talents of others is the only technology they need. That way, they can spend their time building and maintaining relationships with past, current and future clients instead of trying to figure out how to set up a new printer.
As far as “automating marketing and prospecting”, it depends on what we call “automated”. Prospecting and marketing by successful agents has always been automated, even if it’s manual automation. Last week, when Gary Keller taught a class here at our office, he talked about his automation system back in the 1970s, which was a box of index cards filed by month and another batch of current leads held together with a rubber band. Each month he’d pull out his clients and prospects for that month and call them. That’s exactly what Sylvia still does with our box of past clients, though we are trying to move that into a software system.
That level of automation has yet to be mastered by 95% of Realtors, and I don’t think any kind of technology will change that. Nothing can or will ever replace the effectiveness of blocking out time on a calender to call past clients to say hello and ask for referrals.
As far as transaction management software, it causes more problems than it solves. Deals still need to be managed by human beings because there are too many variables to allow for complete automation. There is no way we would drop a deal into some sort of automated system and trust that things would be done properly. It takes active following of the deal by the agent or assistant to an agent.
Additionally, as more and more business-client relationships bud online in the coming years, property agents will need to be able to communicate effectively through the written word as they log on to social networking sites to mine for prospective customers and old referrals.
I don’t disagree that written communication is important, but I’ve yet to see an example of effective written communication on any social networking sites. Blogs, yes. There are many good Realtor blogs. But on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace? No. Mostly jibberish.
My take on the Realtor of 2015? The successful ones will be doing the same basic things that have always brought success. The tools will continue to change, but the basics will remain the same. It’s about relationships and staying in touch with people who might refer new customers or become repeat customers. Do most Realtors know this and therefore stay in touch with past clients? No, they don’t.
A recent survey of real estate buyers and sellers said that 94% never heard from their Realtor again after the closing. Can you believe that? That probably won’t change much by 2015, no matter what type of technology comes along.