The real estate industry in the United States has embraced digital solutions since the inception of the internet. This utilization of technology means that the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted the industry to the same degree as other service industries. Lorna Gagnon, Regional Manager with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, discussed in detail many of the ways the Real Estate industry has adopted technology and how the industry continues to evolve and test new technologies.
Most people are familiar with virtual tours, open houses, using google maps to show the area, and the ability to access thousands of properties without ever leaving the house. Almost everything can be done online except for the final closing documents where a notary must be present. Amusingly, the solution is for the Notary to move between the cars in the parking lot for the required signatures. There are many things to learn from Real Estate marketing and Real Estate agent marketing. For example, Real Estate companies are focusing more attention on “seek optimization” versus typical “search engine optimization” to try and influence and capture potential home buyers further up the purchase journey. “Seek optimization” involves a lot of brand work and a lot of content generation.
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To that end, many Real Estate agents are using their social media channels to create and distribute hyper-local content, particularly video content. Whether it is blogging or Vlogging or curating a YouTube channel, or even hosting a podcast, building a library of hyper-local content can be a differentiator when it comes to selecting an agent. The types of content are as simple as driving around a neighborhood and showing the amenities, interviewing a school principal, or showing off a few restaurants. Many agents also prepare videos and blogs on the typical home inspection and buying process but also curate “top 5” lists such as restaurants or shopping, which are useful even if you are not in the market for a house. Partnering with restaurants and home improvement contractors and others to create content is a win-win situation for all – including the home buyers.
Ultimately, Real Estate Agents are building a brand as a local guide and local expert and not just an expert on buying and selling houses. Other businesses can learn from them and take a broader view of what their customers value and what is useful to them. By providing more extensive information around a subject, some businesses can higher up the discovery phase of a purchase journey. Finally, Real Estate companies are working more and more with AI and chatbot technology.
From answering simple queries to actively pushing for engagement, chatbots are becoming more prevalent. Real Estate has always been a people industry and about feeling comfortable with the agent. Still, as AI and Chatbots become more natural in their interactions, it is possible agents will be able to deploy this technology as easily as they create listing search emails.