February 12, 2016
The year is 2016 and it seems that everywhere we turn, there's new technology cropping up. Throughout it all, mobile technology not only continues to improve exponentially, but it's nearly ubiquitous. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't have a mobile device these days. But, what does that mean for real estate agents?
According to the NAR, in 2015, 50% of home buyers used mobile technology to find their new home.
Most real estate agents spend very little time in their offices and they're nearly always on-the-go, making mobile technology ideal for their business lifestyles. But are they all utilizing it to the fullest extent? There are plenty of reasons for real estate agents to integrate mobile into their business strategy, but they may not be aware of all the resources available to them for doing so, and how these trends could potentially make a huge difference in their day-to-day.
Over 90% of all real estate agents and firms have their own website, but are they optimized and mobile responsive? A mobile optimized site is one that gives your site's visitors the best experience no matter what device they're on. In order to be optimized, your site must be mobile-responsive. If you've ever opened up a website on your phone before and had a hard time navigating around because the design is stretched out and screwed up, you've officially visited site that's not responsive. Not all website designs will automatically change to fit the screen of the viewer. Because of the size change from a desktop screen to a smaller mobile device, images and text can get warped and make an altogether terrible user experience for anyone visiting your website from mobile.
Grab your cell phone or tablet and pull up your website in your browser, how's it look? If it looks like a jumbled mess, then it's probably time to make some changes. If you want to be extra thorough, head to your website from your desktop browser, right click anywhere on the page, and select 'Inspect.' This should open up a window that allows you to pick any mobile device and take a look at how it will appear when it's viewed from that device.
Nowadays it's rare to find a website design that doesn't include mobile responsiveness, so it should be fairly easy to find a design for your site that will include the mobile option. Reach out to the designer who did your website, or if you did it yourself, head back to the service you used and find yourself a new design! The ROI on this slight change will be major, considering how large a percentage of people searching for real estate are using mobile devices.
According to Google, mobile searches are now happening more frequently than online searches via the desktop. This means that more people are turning to their mobile device for an immediate answer to their questions and queries...for anything and everything.
Mobile search allows for potential buyers to stay on top of any changes in the market immediately as it happens. According to a Google Consumer Survey, people are using their mobile to do everything from find the listing to look for directions, call or email the agent, or even watch a video, and that's just while they're actually out looking at for homes. It's a good indicator that all of that information and more must be mobile accessible and responsive, or else you and your listings will get dismissed by potential buyers very quickly.
Conduct a quick poll the next time you're with clients to see how they'd like to hear from you and what social media platforms they utilize. With 80% of real estate agents using Facebook, there's a good chance you're already on there, but are you taking advantage of the other platforms too? 39% of Twitter users are utilizing the platform to keep up with general news, making it a great format to use for sharing your listings, quick updates or fun facts about the neighborhoods you're representing.
[caption id="attachment_6933" align="aligncenter" width="710"] Real Estate Agent participation on social media. via NAR[/caption]
But, about 22% of real estate agency owners access social media only about once or twice a year. How can you create a strong presence by only checking in a few times a year? Social media can in fact be a fairly demanding aspect of your marketing or outreach, but that's why we recommend using an app like Buffer or scheduling out some time to maintain your active profiles. Take advantage of those relatively low participation numbers by realtors on other platforms and get on there yourself and build up your online presence.
What about a blog? You're already an expert your field, why not share your knowledge out with the public? More and more people are turning to blogs as their go-to source for news and lifestyle tips. Become a thought leader in the real estate world and promote yourself via LinkedIn or other social media platforms. The key here? Get your blog linked up to your website, make sure it's SEO optimized, and of course that it's mobile-responsive. As of 2015, blogs were named as the 5th most trusted source for accurate news and information. On top of that, according to Pew Research, 39 out of 50 news websites are getting more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop. Become that accurate source of information and news for real estate tips, tricks, or even a pro on the local area you're selling in. Potential buyers will come to trust you through your blog before even meeting you in person.
Ah yes, apps. Anyone who has a mobile device will know they can be the bane of our existence, the most helpful item on your phone...or the most distracting. Yet, we do know the power of a good app. There are over 1 million apps out there for both android and iOS users, making it hard to wade through the weeds to find the good ones. So, before you assume that the only things out there are Angry Birds on your phone, we've got some suggestions for helpful apps for real estate agents to download and have handy.
Your favorite website has their own app and it's perfect for your phone or tablet. It allows you to log into your Zillow account, receive notifications, and update any information on listings you have out there. What's more perfect than that?
But don't bet on everyone downloading the app. Plenty of potential buyers will be accessing the Zillow website from the browser on their phone. Make sure that your listings are optimized for viewing and that any photos or videos are easy to view from a mobile device.
Never get lost on your way to a showing ever again. We know it happens every once and a while and there's nothing worse than being late and frazzled to meet clients for the first time. Google Maps gives you traffic updates and workarounds, as well as turn-by-turn directions, perfect for those locations in neighborhoods you're not quite sure about yet.
How often do your clients ask you for recommendations for the local area when you're showing them a property or after they buy one? The Yelp app is perfect for searching and finding the best local restaurants and eateries and getting a quick overview of what they offer and what people think about them. You'll become your clients' neighborhood guru in a blink of an eye!
The future is now. There are a few key mobile trends that are gaining ground and will soon be accessible for pretty much everyone...and will be worth the attention of real estate agents. Virtual reality is on the rise and while it's a rare few of us that get to try it out today, the New York Times proved that soon we may all be able to access virtual realty from our mobile phones.
What does that mean for real estate agents? It could certainly mean a huge change in how you're showing homes. Where it once was the norm for potential buyers to see a home in person before they made an offer, it could soon become an option for long-distance buyers to make an offer without even stepping foot on the property. When our mobile devices can become virtual reality devices, the World is suddenly very open to us.
Another 'futuristic' mobile trend we may be seeing more of in the very near future? Smart homes. We're seeing more and more technology that allows you to control aspects of your home right from your mobile device. Whether it's a live video feed to check on the kids or your pets, an app to control the temperature or the lights in the home, or even a way to unlock your doors as you walk up to the house; your mobile device is soon going to become the key to your home...quite literally!
[caption id="attachment_6954" align="aligncenter" width="652"] Remote home control system on a digital tablet or phone via realtor.com.[/caption]
It's an important trend to keep in mind as you begin to see more Millennials on the market. This is the generation looking for constant connectivity in the simplest form, and that form is almost always in the palm of their hands. This is also proving to be an important trend in new homes being built today, and shockingly realtor.com found that it's not in tech-friendly Silicon Valley that you'll be finding them. Smart homes are cropping up all over the country in new housing developments. Take the time to learn how the devices work and how they'll begin to fit into our future lifestyles.
And go mobile already! Your on-the-go lifestyle will only be enhanced by implementing more mobile technology and trends into it. In this case, it's not a bad thing to hop on all the latest trends, if anything it'll only enhance your business capabilities. Download some apps, try your hand at social media, make sure to optimize your website for mobile, and look ahead to the future trends in technology. With such a high percentage of buyers, sellers, and other agents out there using mobile devices, we're still surprised when we run across an agent with a website that hasn't been optimized, or one who isn't leveraging social media to their advantage.