The 21st Century Real Estate Agent

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December 1, 2016 by Jeff Lowen

At one of the most enthusiastic and powerful annual real estate conferences in recent years, Stefan Swanepoel, the worlds’ foremost authority on real estate statistical trends and author of the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report; speaks of emerging technology, changing markets and where he feels we’re going as an industry at the NAEA* Exponential Growth Summit. Amidst out of the box thinking, the pressure of amazing new technologies and the way the real estate business is and will be done, one thing is for sure; progress will not be stopped. The very old adage, “We’ll do it this way because it’s the way it’s always been done and we’ll keep on doing it…” is not only limited thinking but foolish, will not serve the growing savvy consumer and will find your skills mediocre at best if not unemployed.

Currently, the real estate industry coughs up about seven of ten agents out of the business, or inactive licenses within two years of obtaining their license, already. What my own experience has shown me and associating with the fascinating industry thinkers of our time, is that the consumer demands more and will continue to do so.

This has nothing to do with whether you’re a Keller Williams, a Coldwell Banker or a Re/Max brand, just to mention a very few, along with the countless ’boutique’ one-off brokerages that are out there and growing. In every office, you’ll find agents that are absolutely amazing and agents that are far from it, and everything in between. The benchmark becomes what the savvy consumer demands. Those of us that are willing to deeply understand this to the point where we can preempt the needs and wants of the consumer is a mere prerequisite. No longer is the so-called expertise of the real estate agent deemed satisfactory by simply navigating through a transaction, deciphering paperwork and getting signatures along with a few other ministerial tasks. Here comes the 21st-century agent.

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Holographic models and images for the consumer to interact with selection to maximize their time, smart homes that do everything from adjust your bed temperature while you sleep, track your eating, breathing and exercising patterns to better advise you of your health (no, I’m not wearing a wristband), not to mention cutting edge security, window e-glass dimmer adjustments, refrigerator and freezer temps to better keep the type and amount of food. Robotic, stand alone ‘SIRI’-like companions that help to monitor all of this and can advise you on grocery lists, inventory and order food and merchandise for you and even suggest a better matching tie for you to wear to work, too! Then there are emergency response drones saving lives, automated hospitality-bots, electronic bees. Yes, you read that correctly; e-bees… And the list goes on.

Many car manufacturers already have driverless, electric vehicles with only bureaucratic red tape standing in the way, stand ready to give your buyers a private tour of the area, show them homes and never touch a steering wheel! The 21st century is here and it’s not only to affecting the real estate industry but the rest of our lives as well. And, it’s coming with a vengeance!
Of course, there are those that resist. You are quite welcomed to. Should you decide to be one of them, I fear you will find your voice to be but a whisper.

It is a great time to be alive and although the argument may be made that we are leveraging technology far too much, one thing the 21st century real estate agent must do is not only become astute in cutting edge technology that serves the consumer because they demand it, but the ability to demonstrate those benefits and more with a compassionate, personal and humanistic touch.

Email, what’s that? It’s rapidly becoming a thing of the past. At my last count, there are well over two hundred different major social media sites and more being created every week. Clearly demonstrating the need for people to be more connected in different ways and communicating with each other, all in a better connected, mobile-centric world. How are we connected? There has never been a smaller, more efficient and powerful device than what our cell phones can and will continue to be able to do and nearly every adult on the planet has one. Prototype modular snap-in peripheral mobile phones are on the horizon, too. Giving each of us the ability to enjoy many configurations. Didn’t Facebook just halt their R & D projects and sink million$$ into making itself more mobile? Yes, they did!

Finally, one of the last speakers, best-selling author and CEO of Peoplistic USA, Gary de Rodriguez, reiterated the fact that communication is broken up into three methods. Words, body language and tonalities. With words accounting for a mere 7% of communication. Personally, I love the new technologies. I also believe real estate will always need the personal touch of the professional. Yet, in the wake of evolving tech and the threats outlined in the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report; the question remains, if by leveraging technology in the direction we are, I wonder if we will ever learn to communicate better?

*NAEA is the National Association of Expert Advisors.

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