Why Tech Will Enhance (Not Replace) The Role Of A Real Estate Agent
One of the biggest value-adds of utilizing technology is that it can automate mundane tasks — and that’s especially true for real estate professionals. For example, property managers can leverage automated workflows to help them do everything from collect rent to see through maintenance work orders, and investors can use online tools and analytics to access cash and grow their portfolios.
Meanwhile, when it comes to real estate agents, historically, there have been fewer technology solutions available. However, there are some incredible ones available that help agents do their jobs better. At first glance, these technologies do, in fact, automate some of the core responsibilities of the modern-day agent, but, ultimately, they serve to change the nature of the real estate agent role.
Bringing Simplicity To Unit Showings
One of the biggest (and perhaps more tedious) responsibilities of a real estate agent today is unit showings. Apart from the back-and-forth with prospective tenants when trying to schedule unit showings, agents also deal with a lot of cancellations, late appointments and no-shows, all of which waste agents’ valuable time. When prospective renters do show up for viewing appointments, agents then have to spend time, of course, showing them the unit or home. This can be a time waste, too, especially with prospects who are not seriously considering moving or signing a lease just yet — often, people want to check out available units simply to gain perspective into the rental market. Yet regardless of a prospective renter’s intentions, real estate agents have to make time for these showings, many of which have no business impact.
Newer technologies have slowly started to alleviate some of these frustrations with the unit-showing process, allowing for self-service by the prospective renters. The value-add here is not so much that it eliminates a time-consuming part of an agent’s day, but that it allows agents to fill their days with more important activities, like marketing the units, identifying the best prospects, being better advisers to those clients and closing deals faster.
Transforming The Screening Process
Once prospects have viewed a property and want to move forward in the leasing process, real estate agents then need to screen them to determine if they’re the right fit (have good credit, never been evicted, etc.). This is easier said than done. Doing background checks on prospective tenants can be challenging and very time-consuming. Most importantly, even once agents have all the proper information on hand, they still need to pick the best tenant based on that information. A bad renter can cause many headaches, so properly screening prospects is vital for long-term success, and it's why tenant screening is one of the cornerstones of our business.
Revitalizing the Agent's Role
Self-service showings and the streamlined screening process ultimately gives time back to agents to do what they do best: close deals and spend time with prospects who are serious about renting. Agents can devote more of their time to answering prospects’ questions, addressing concerns and ultimately persuading them to move forward with signing a lease. It also gives agents time back to strategize on areas of their business that could use a revamp, like average success rates or turnover rates, for example, and gives them a chance to better assess how they can improve those areas. The modern agents of today can be more successful and more effective than ever before, because they finally have time to be. Tech eradicates the tedious tasks, but not real estate agents’ roles. The technology only serves to enhance their roles, giving them more time to act as strategic advisers to their clients and prospects. Real estate is a people business, so humans will always be a critical part to that.
So where do agents start on this journey? The most important step is to do some research into different technologies to find the most user-friendly tools. Deciding to embark on a digital revamp in one’s profession doesn’t mean that it has to be a tedious overhaul with a significant learning curve. That’s the beauty of so much modern technology: its ease of use. Approaching research in this way will, inevitably, limit the number of unforeseen challenges with tech implementation.
Another important part of this process is identifying the specific challenges in the business and what is most important to solve for first. Agents, to be successful, must focus on solving for a specific business pain point to gain true benefits. Just throwing technology at all aspects of a business won’t necessarily help solve for the most pressing issues and may, frankly, create more work than necessary. That’s why identifying a specific business case to apply technology to is critical before any implementation.
For agents who may be reticent to adopt technology when they are so used to doing every part of their job manually, it’s a good idea to look closely at ways in which competitors are using technology. Where there’s technology, there’s more power, so if an agent is adamant about doing things the way he or she has always done them, that person will never have the upper hand against a competitor who sided with tech. What’s more, nurturing client relationships is real estate agents’ bread and butter, and agents should always be on the lookout for ways to improve upon those relationships by making all processes as seamless as possible.