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Real Estate

Technology and Digitalization in Real Estate: What have we learned so far?

November 13, 2020

Vice President of Global Business Development

The recent adoption of technology for online meetings can make us feel like we’re virtually there. Since the real estate industry began embracing digital technologies for their meetings and transactions, I can’t help but wonder if it has improved everyone’s experience. Should real estate agents embrace technology across all responsibilities, or should they reserve technology for specific tasks? 

Too Many Apps to Simplify Your Tasks

If you ask real estate agents how many tasks they have when representing a new listing, most will likely respond “too many!” Running comparables, pitching the owner to get exclusive representation, staging and photographing the property, promoting the listing - the list goes on. Thinking that there’s a mobile app to simplify every one of these tasks can easily get overwhelming. Having more tools to work with does not mean you’ll be better at the task at hand - but it may mean you’ll end up being more anxious. The ever-growing collection of tools for electronic collaboration may often create an illusion of improvement in the way we work, but this is not always the case. 

The trick is to carefully select which tasks need to be aided by technology. Recognizing that clients appreciate human interaction is important. My recommendation is to focus on leveraging technology in the aid of the better organization, productivity, and time management. Make technology work for you, rather than the other way around. 

Technology is Not Perfect

Have you ever spoken with a technology expert and had absolutely no clue what they were talking about? We’ve all been there. Technology experts often assume that the people they’re having a conversation with are experts as well - for many of us know that’s not the case.

The tough adoption of new technologies often reflects most in mobile apps and online platforms. Some people embrace and understand new platforms more easily than others. It is not uncommon for real estate agents to share links, apps, or new technologies with clients who are often clueless about how to use those platforms. Success follows those who know which tools to use, and when to use them. 

The final objective with regards to technology should always be to facilitate communication and the flow of information between agents and clients. Be sure, you have the more advanced technology otherwise you will be behind. Invest, plan and be ready.

Technology Does Not Satisfy Our Need for Human Interaction

Whether you’d like to return to the office because you miss your favorite lunch spots or simply because you miss emailing your favorite coworkers from just a few feet away, it is important to recognize that even though technology may help improve your communication, it does not satisfy our need for social interaction. 

In fact, a recent survey found that 70% of employees working from home want to go back to their office, the main reason being that they miss social interaction with their coworkers. Humans are social beings, and most are looking forward to the day in which they can return to their favorite restaurant, bar, and other social settings. Technology is moving fast and making our lives easier but it’s important to prioritize the human factor and not get caught up in implementing too much at once. The human factor will never be replaced. 

When it’s Safe and Possible, In-Person or Virtual Meetings Should Balanced

It would be easy to assume that virtual meetings are the best way to work, right? Not so fast. From time-lag problems during video conferencing to wardrobe malfunctions, not every video meeting goes off without a hitch. In-person meetings allow one to express one thing virtual meetings will not. Body language and facial expressions. Facial expressions can convey countless emotions without saying a word. Studies had concluded that 55% is communicated via body language.  

The current circumstances of 2020 present challenges when it comes to face-to-face meetings. Whenever possible and safe, in-person interactions yield the best results. At the end of the day, technology is here to help real estate agents better determine their clients’ needs so they may propose solutions that work best for them. 

Video tours are a great tool to improve communication and time management between an agent and their client, and they should not aim to eliminate human interaction. In-person meetings make you accountable for active attention and alertness. Engagement and timing may not be aligned in virtual meetings.

Never Lose Your Human Side

My prediction is that, as soon as it is safe and possible, both real estate agents and their clients will prefer and benefit from face-to-face interactions. The human side of us reflects best when we are face-to-face and having a screen between us often increases the risk for more friction points. Real estate agents should not allow technology to add frustration to the experience of finding a new place to call home and should focus on improving the quality of communication with their clients. Allow and embrace technology for learning, informing, and communicating, while being aware that the best interactions happen when we’re together. Technology is moving fast, makes our lives easy but be aware of predicting and addiction and walking away from the human side. Human side is never going to be replaced. Don’t let technology impact your health.


This is an article written by GRI Club member Francisco Angulo, Vice President of Global Business Development of Realogy. Any views or opinions expressed belong solely to the original author of the article and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the GRI Club.

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