Realtors turning more tech savvy in building client base, selling

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Smartphones, tablets, social media, websites and apps have become the realtor’s high-tech tools for getting clients and selling properties, according to surveys of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The “2013-2014 Realtor® Technology Survey,” conducted by NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology, found that realtors spent more in new technology for their businesses in 2013 than in 2012. Brokers spent a median of $1,410 on technology for their real estate business, up from $1,122 in 2012, while agents spent a median of $848, up slightly from $822 in 2012.

The survey was based on 1,280 responses collected by e-mail from NAR members, including brokers, managers and agents. NAR is America’s largest trade association with a million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

The same survey also found that the vast majority of realtors or 94 percent use mobile devices to communicate with clients. About 52 percent of the respondents use iPhones, 36 percent use Androids and 3 percent use Blackberry devices.

The use of social media to generate leads and stay in contact with clients has also increased since 2012. About 91 percent of all realtors use social media with 70 percent saying the purpose was to build relationships and network and 64 percent saying its is for marketing and generating leads.

“Embracing new technologies and online resources is a vital part of how realtors identify, market and sell homes and guarantee that they are meeting their clients’ needs,” said Mark Lesswing, NAR senior vice president and chief technology officer.

In another survey called Digital House Hunt (DHH) done by NAR together with search engine giant Google and released in January 2013, more new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset to find listings. DHH, which was done to better understand the evolving role of digital media in the consumer home search process, also found that homebuilder-related searches on tablets grew 362 percent year-over-year (YOY) while real estate broker-related searches on tablets grew 300 percent YOY.

Other findings are that 52 percent of first-time buyers started their search online and 79 percent of senior home buyers go online to search for a home. About 77 percent of home shoppers searched online from their home computer while 51 percent of new home shoppers searched their mobile devices to read general home information. About 51 percent of home shoppers using video are searching on YouTube and the searches related to finding an agent on the video sharing site grew 46 percent YOY.

Video will become a useful tool in capturing audience attention and providing homebuyers with valuable information, the study said. No wonder real estate digital media and technology company RealBiz Media, Inc. (OTCQB: RBIZ) is the leader in home video tours.

RealBiz’s video-centric listing site and agent directory, NestBuilder.com, also provides Nestbuilder Agent, an automatic video-creation tool that allows the country’s one million real estate agents to claim their personalized Online Video Channel. Nestbuilder Agent allows agents to turn listings into videos branded to them and share these with consumers over social media and email. Each video links back to the agent’s channel on the site.

As the agent’s primary contact media, optimized to highlight their personal brand and information about them, their listings and their community, the Online Video Channel increases duration of client viewership of an agent’s video assets and engagement with the agent’s content will add to higher search engine optimization (SEO) rankings for them.

“The most active agents in real estate, the top 5 percent, are attracted to this kind of service because they experience firsthand how hard it is to be a smart online marketer,” stated Suresh Srinivasan, Chief Operating Officer at RealBiz.

The popular use of smartphones by both realtors and homebuyers makes app and mobile sites another important tool for marketing properties. Realtor.com offers up a free agent-branded app that can suggest homes to clients and bring all lead inquiries directly to the agent. The app has built-in instant messaging so the agent and client can discuss each property.

Trulia, which lists properties for sale and rent as well as neighborhood information and community insights, has Android and iOS smartphone apps that alerts consumers on new homes that meets their search criteria, including a specified distance from where they are.

The app Homesnap of D.C.-based Sawbuck Realty brings real-time multiple listing services data to smartphones and tablets, while also allowing realtors to communicate with clients on the go.

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